Limited physician knowledge of sarcopenia: A survey.



Sarcopenia, a reduction in skeletal muscle mass and function, is a condition that contributes to functional decline and disability in older adults. Although research on this geriatric condition has developed rapidly in recent years, little work has been done to document whether practicing physicians are incorporating sarcopenia into their clinical practice.


An online survey of 253 practicing U.S. physicians assessed knowledge of sarcopenia, use of the term in practice, motivation for screening patients, and diagnostic and treatment approaches. They were board certified in four practice areas: internal medicine (n = 69), family medicine (n = 69), geriatrics (n = 40), or physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) (n = 75).


Less than 20% of internists and family medicine physicians reported being very familiar with the term sarcopenia, with substantially higher familiarity at this level reported among geriatricians (70%) and among PM&R specialists (41%). Two additional findings pointed to deficiencies in sarcopenia knowledge and practice: participants substantially overestimated the prevalence of sarcopenia in older adults (44% of participants reported an expected prevalence of >25%) compared to findings from published studies (indicating 10% of older adults experience sarcopenia); over 75% reported not typically using specific diagnostic criteria or being unsure if their approach utilized any specific criteria. When asked what terminology they use in a medical chart for a patient presenting with significant loss of muscle mass and strength, only 8% said sarcopenia.


Sarcopenia, a condition that can have a major impact on older adults as they age, has not been fully incorporated into the knowledge base and practices of active physicians. The survey data suggest that improving physician familiarity with sarcopenia and having universal agreement on criteria for diagnosis may increase the screening for and treatment of sarcopenia.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Guralnik, Jack M, Peggy M Cawthon, Shalender Bhasin, Roger Fielding, Jay Magaziner, Alfonso J Cruz-Jentoft, Bruno Vellas, Lindsay Clarke, et al. (2023). Limited physician knowledge of sarcopenia: A survey. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 10.1111/jgs.18227 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.


William Joseph Evans

Adjunct Professor in the Department of Medicine

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.