Nonpharmacological interventions to treat physical frailty and sarcopenia in older patients: a systematic overview - the SENATOR Project ONTOP Series

Isabel Lozano-Montoya, Andrea Correa-Pérez, Iosief Abraha, Roy L Soiza, Antonio Cherubini, Denis O'Mahony, Alfonso J Cruz-Jentoft

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND: Physical frailty (PF) and sarcopenia are predictors of negative health outcomes such as falls, disability, hospitalization, and death. Some systematic reviews (SRs) have been published on different nonpharmacological treatments of frailty and sarcopenia using heterogeneous definitions of them.

OBJECTIVE: To critically appraise the evidence from SRs of the primary studies on nonpharmacological interventions to treat PF (defined by Fried's frailty phenotype) and sarcopenia (defined by the EWGSOP) in older patients.

DESIGN: Overview of SRs and meta-analysis of comparative studies.

DATA SOURCES: PubMed, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, EMBASE, and CINAHL were searched in October 2015.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR SELECTING STUDIES: SRs that included at least one comparative study evaluating any nonpharmacological intervention to treat PF or sarcopenia in older patients in any health care setting. Any primary study described in these SRs with experimental design was included.

DATA EXTRACTION AND MANAGEMENT: Two reviewers independently screened titles, abstracts, and full-texts of articles. Quality assessment was carried out by using criteria from the Cochrane Collaboration and the GRADE working group.

RESULTS: Ten SRs with 5 primary studies satisfied the inclusion criteria. The most frequent interventions in the included studies were physical exercise (4) and nutritional supplementation (2). Muscle strength (MS; except for one study in a frail population) and physical performance (PP; except for another study in a frail population) improved with exercise and amino acid supplementation in frail and sarcopenic old adults. Falls and activities of daily living were assessed in two studies with opposite results. The overall quality of the evidence was low.

CONCLUSION: This overview of SRs highlights the importance of exercise interventions with or without nutritional supplementation to improve the PP in community-dwelling patients aged >65 years with PF and sarcopenia. MS improved with multidisciplinary treatment and exercise interventions in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-740
Number of pages20
JournalClinical interventions in aging
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

The authors thank the following panel members who participated in the Delphi process to identify relevant outcomes: Hubert Blain, Andrea Corsonello, Giuseppina
Dell’aquila, Adalsteinn Gudmundsson, Gunnar Akner, Mirko Petrovic, Regina Roller-Wirnsberger, Fabio Salvi, and Fabiana Trotta. The research leading to these results has been funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement No 305930 (SENATOR).


  • Aged
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Exercise
  • Frail Elderly
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength
  • Sarcopenia
  • Journal Article
  • Review


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