Background: Decreased physical functioning is associated with malnutrition and common in acute care patients; determining loss of function is often considered part of a comprehensive nutrition assessment. Handgrip strength (HGS) and 5-meter timed walk (5m) are functional measures used in a variety of settings. This analysis sought to determine which functional measure could be added to a hospital nutrition assessment, based on its feasibility and capacity to discriminate patient subgroups.
Methods: Eligible medical patients (no delirium/dementia, admitted from community; n = 1250), recruited from 5 hospitals that participated in a previous multisite action research study, provided data on demographics, HGS, 5m, nutrition status, perceived disability, and other characteristics.
Results: Significantly more patients (z = 17.39, P < .00001) were able to complete HGS than 5m (92% versus 43%, respectively). Median HGS was 28.0 kg for men and 14.7 kg for women. Of patients who completed the 5m, mean completion time was 8.98 seconds (median, 6.79 seconds, SD = 6.59). 5m and HGS scores were significantly worse with patient-perceived disability (z = -9.56, t = 10.69, respectively; P < .0001; 95% confidence interval [CI], [7.33, 10.63]; [1.76, 3.18]). HGS was associated with nutrition status (t = 4.13, P < .001; 95% CI [2.02, 5.67]), although it showed poor validity as a single nutrition indicator.
Conclusions: These data indicate that HGS is a more useful functional measure than 5m when added to a hospital nutrition assessment. Determination of HGS cutpoints to identify low strength in acute care patients will promote its use.