BACKGROUND: The ongoing "Sarcopenia and Physical fRailty IN older people: multi-componenT Treatment strategies (SPRINTT)" randomized controlled trial (RCT) is testing the efficacy of a multicomponent intervention in the prevention of mobility disability in older adults with physical frailty & sarcopenia (PF&S). Here, we describe the procedures followed for PF&S case finding and screening of candidate participants for the SPRINTT RCT. We also illustrate the main demographic and clinical characteristics of eligible screenees.
METHODS: The identification of PF&S was based on the co-occurrence of three defining elements: (1) reduced physical performance (defined as a score on the Short Physical Performance Battery between 3 and 9); (2) low muscle mass according to the criteria released by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health; and (3) absence of mobility disability (defined as ability to complete the 400-m walk test in 15 min). SPRINTT was advertised through a variety of means. Site-specific case finding strategies were developed to accommodate the variability across centers in catchment area characteristics and access to the target population. A quick "participant profiling" questionnaire was devised to facilitate PF&S case finding.
RESULTS: During approximately 22 months, 12,358 prescreening interviews were completed in 17 SPRINTT sites resulting in 6710 clinic screening visits. Eventually, 1566 candidates were found to be eligible for participating in the SPRINTT RCT. Eligible screenees showed substantial physical function impairment and comorbidity burden. In most centers, project advertisement through mass media was the most rewarding case finding strategy.
CONCLUSION: PF&S case finding in the community is a challenging, but feasible task. Although largely autonomous in daily life activities, older adults with PF&S suffer from significant functional impairment and comorbidity. This subset of the older population is therefore at high risk for disability and other negative health-related events. Key strategies to consider for successfully intercepting at-risk older adults should focus on mass communication methods.