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Heart, Lung and Circulation

Clinician Estimates of Frailty Compared to Formal Frailty Assessment in Adults With Heart Failure: A Cross-Sectional Analysis

Published:April 29, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hlc.2022.04.003

      Background

      Frailty assessment is recommended for patients with heart failure. Despite the availability of instruments to assess frailty, there are no clear recommendations regarding the optimal instrument to use in a heart failure context. This ambiguity combined with a lack of education and resources, often leads clinicians to rely on subjective estimates of frailty, such as ‘the end-of-the-bed’ or ‘eyeball’ test.

      Aim

      To examine the association between clinician-estimated frailty and formal frailty assessment in adults with heart failure.

      Methods

      Cross-sectional analysis of the FRAilty MEasurement in Heart Failure (FRAME-HF) study. Participants: (1) Adults aged ≥18 years in the outpatient heart failure clinic and cardiology ward; (2) and cardiovascular clinicians (nurses, physicians, and allied-health professionals). Following participant recruitment, cardiovascular clinicians were asked to rate the participant’s frailty status based on their routine clinical assessment as either: frail, pre-frail, or non-frail, which was then compared to a formal frailty assessment using a modified version of the Frailty Phenotype. The association between clinician-estimated frailty and formal frailty assessment were examined using a weighted Kappa statistic and Spearman’s correlation coefficient.

      Results

      A total of 75 patients and 39 clinicians were recruited, producing 194 paired frailty assessments. Mean age of the patients was 54 (±13) years. Correlation of pooled clinician-estimated frailty to formal frailty was fair (0.52, p=0.00). Correlation was highest between allied-health estimated frailty and formal frailty (0.70, p=0.00). Agreement between pooled clinician-estimated frailty and formal frailty was fair (0.33) and was highest between allied health-estimated frailty and formal frailty (0.45).

      Conclusion

      Subjective clinician-estimated frailty is not a reliable replacement for formal frailty assessment in adults with heart failure, underscoring the need for assessment using a valid and reliable instrument.

      Keywords

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