Perspectives on frailty screening, management and its implementation among acute care providers in Singapore: a qualitative study.
Background: COVID-19 pandemic has reminded how older adults with frailty are particularly exposed to adverse
outcomes. In the acute care setting, consideration of evidence-based practice related to frailty screening and management
is needed to improve the care provided to aging populations. It is important to assess for frailty in acute care
so as to establish treatment priorities and goals for the individual. Our study explored understanding on frailty and
practice of frailty screening among different acute care professionals in Singapore, and identify barriers and facilitators
concerning frailty screening and its implementation.
Methods: A qualitative study using focus group discussion among nurses and individual interviews among physicians
from four departments (Accident & Emergency, Anesthesia, General Surgery, Orthopedics) in three acute
hospitals from the three public health clusters in Singapore. Participants were recruited through purposive sampling
of specific clinicians seeing a high proportion of older patients at the hospitals. Thematic analysis of the data was
performed using NVIVO 12.0.
Results: Frailty was mainly but inadequately understood as a physical and age-related concept. Screening for frailty
in acute care was considered important to identify high risk patients, to implement targeted treatment and care,
and to support decision making and prognosis estimation. Specific issues related to screening, management and
implementation were identified: cooperation from patient/caregivers, acceptance from healthcare workers/hospital
managers, need for dedicated resources, guidelines for follow-up management and consensus on the scope of measurement
for different specialties.
Conclusion: Our findings indicated the need for 1) frailty-related education program for patients/care givers and
stakeholders 2) inter-professional collaboration to develop integrated approach for screening and management of
hospital patients with frailty and 3) hospital-wide consensus to adopt a common frailty screening tool.