How do we define and measure sarcopenia? Protocol for a systematic review

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Background: The loss of muscle mass is a natural aging consequence. A reduction of muscle mass that surpasses the physiological rate is considered the key factor responsible for the development of a geriatric syndrome called sarcopenia. However, a new understanding of the importance of muscle quality over quantity is rising; as a result, different definitions for sarcopenia has been used. Due to the negative impact on elder's health and quality of life, the number of research investigating the causes, prevalence, and management of sarcopenia is increasing, although a consensus on sarcopenia definition is still missing. This systematic review will assess observational studies reporting the presence of sarcopenia aiming to verify how sarcopenia is defined, the diagnosis criteria, and the tools used for assessment. In addition, we will investigate the influence of the definition and diagnostic tools on the prevalence rate. Methods: Keywords related to the condition, population, and type of study will be combined to build a search strategy for each of the following databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature), Web of Science, and Google Scholar. Two independent reviewers will analyze the retrieved papers for eligibility and the methodological quality of eligible studies. The definition of sarcopenia and diagnostic tools used in each study and the prevalence estimates will be extracted. Descriptive statistics will be used to report the definitions of sarcopenia, diagnostic tools, and whether these influence or not, the prevalence rates. Discussion: Sarcopenia is receiving greater attention in geriatrics research in recent years. Therefore, it is important to investigate how this condition is defined in the literature and whether these definitions can interfere with the reported estimates devoting more efforts on the topic. The results of this study can help to determine the most used definitions of sarcopenia reported in the literature, its strengths and limitations, and open a discussion about a need for a more valid, easy, and suitable one. Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42015020832

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Carvalho do Nascimento, P. R., Poitras, S., & Bilodeau, M. (2018). How do we define and measure sarcopenia? Protocol for a systematic review. Systematic Reviews, 7(1).

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