Lack of knowledge and availability of diagnostic equipment could hinder the diagnosis of sarcopenia and its management

PLoS One. 2017 Oct 2;12(10):e0185837. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185837. eCollection 2017.


Objectives: Sarcopenia is an emerging clinical challenge in an ageing population and is associated with serious negative health outcomes. This study aimed to assess the current state of the art regarding the knowledge about the concept of sarcopenia and practice of the diagnostic strategy and management of sarcopenia in a cohort of Dutch healthcare professionals (physicians, physiotherapists, dietitians and others) attending a lecture cycle on sarcopenia.

Material and methods: This longitudinal study included Dutch healthcare professionals (n = 223) who were asked to complete a questionnaire before, directly after and five months after (n = 80) attending a lecture cycle on the pathophysiology of sarcopenia, diagnostic strategy and management of sarcopenia, i.e. interventions and collaboration.

Results: Before attendance, 69.7% of healthcare professionals stated to know the concept of sarcopenia, 21.4% indicated to know how to diagnose sarcopenia and 82.6% had treated patients with suspected sarcopenia. 47.5% used their clinical view as diagnostic strategy. Handgrip strength was the most frequently used objective diagnostic measure (33.9%). Five months after attendance, reported use of diagnostic tests was increased, i.e. handgrip strength up to 67.4%, gait speed up to 72.1% and muscle mass up to 20.9%. Bottlenecks during implementation of the diagnostic strategy were experienced by 67.1%; lack of awareness among other healthcare professionals, acquisition of equipment and time constraints to perform the diagnostic measures were reported most often. Before attendance, 36.4% stated not to consult a physiotherapists or exercise therapists (PT/ET) or dietitian for sarcopenia interventions, 10.5% consulted a PT/ET, 32.7% a dietitian and 20.5% both a PT/ET and dietitian. Five months after attendance, these percentages were 28.3%, 21.7%, 30.0% and 20.0% respectively.

Conclusion: The concept of sarcopenia is familiar to most Dutch healthcare professionals but application in practice is hampered, mostly by lack of knowledge, availability of equipment, time constraints and lack of collaboration.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sarcopenia / diagnosis*
  • Sarcopenia / therapy*

Grant support

This study was supported by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research program PreventIT (No 689238) to Andrea B. Maier and the Marie Curie, Sklodowska, Innovative Training Network PANINI (No 675003) to Andrea B. Maier. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.