European study partners attend key workshop

Major progress was made when members of a European study aimed at validating tools to screen and diagnose frailty met last week.

Professor Alan Sinclair at the meeting

Representatives from research centres in the UK, Spain, France, Italy and Poland came together to discuss study protocols for FRAILTOOLS during a three-day workshop at Taplow House Hotel in Buckinghamshire.

The European Union-funded project will provide assessment instruments for integrated care in older adults. The project will overcome the traditional disease-centered approach and place the focus on one of the main health-related problems in older people (disability) and its main risk factor, frailty.

Professor Alan Sinclair, Director of Diabetes Frail, who is leading the study in the UK and hosted the workshop, said: “We will be trying to refine the epidemiological-based concept of frailty to make it useful in clinical settings, validating tools to detect frailty in settings where patients are at the highest risk to develop disability (screening and diagnosis), and to assess the evolution of frailty (prognostic biomarkers). This will then bridge the gap between epidemiology and clinical practice and making the concept useful for preventing disability in daily practice.”

Fellow researcher Professor Leocadio RodriguezManas of Madrid, who is leading the European project and who is based in Madrid, Spain, added: “I feel that this meeting and project represents a true challenge but at the same time an opportunity to overcome some of the barriers for implementing frailty in clinical practice.”

The project will consist of a systematic approach to the use of various frailty assessment instruments with the aim of characterising their role as screening or diagnostic tools in each clinical or social care setting in subjects with a wide variety of medical co-morbidities including diabetes mellitus. The sensitivity, specificity and predictive values as well as feasibility of each instrument will be looked at.

This approach will allow the team to provide validated tools and algorithms for each setting and along the settings, making a substantial contribution to the continued, coordinated and integrated care needed by these older adults.

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