Virtual Frailty Assessment Successful in Older Adults with Hematologic Malignancies

Researchers developed a virtual frailty assessment for older adults with hematologic malignancies and found no evidence to suggest that these patients were unable to complete them.

 

According to a poster presented at the 2021 American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting, these virtual frailty assessments may allow for decentralization of assessments even beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially reaching more older adults with hematologic malignancies.

 

The researchers conducted in-person frailty assessments on transplant-ineligible patients aged 75 or older who presented to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute for initial consultation for their hematology malignancy. They then converted patient-reported items to questions administered over video or teleconference that would include both patient-reported and objective measures.

Objectives measures like grip strength were replaced with self-reported grip strength. The Clock-in-the-Box test was changed to a simple clock draw that the patient displayed to the video camera. A four-meter gait speed assessment was performed by a caregiver using a four-meter ribbon sent to the home.

 

Since starting the virtual frailty assessments in November 2020, 147 patients have been enrolled and 80% have completed assessments. The median age of these patients was 77.6 years; 21% had multiple myeloma (MM).

 

Of the virtual assessments, 72% were completed over video and 28% over the telephone. Most patients (73%) were able to complete the clock draw and 54% were able to complete gait speed tests. The distribution of age and frailty categories in the virtual assessments was similar to that of the in-person assessments.

 

Virtual assessments including objective performance measures is feasible in older adults with cancer and can help overcome barriers to geriatric and frailty assessments in research and practice, the researchers concluded.