Development and validation of a short portable sarcopenia measure in the African American health project

Douglas K. Miller, Theodore K. Malmstrom, Elena M. Andresen, J. Philip Miller, Margaret M. Herning, Mario Schootman, Fredric D. Wolinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background. Poor muscle size and function (sarcopenia) have an important role in the age-associated disability process. However, no commonly accepted index of sarcopenia exists for use in epidemiological studies. Methods. A cohort of 998 community-dwelling African Americans 49-65 years' old at baseline was used to construct the short portable sarcopenia measure (SPSM). SPSM was conceptualized as a measure of sarcopenia that combines estimates of muscle quantity and function into a single scale, is based on component items that can be obtained easily in the field, represents muscle status at a single time point that can be used without sex-specific adjustments, and can be used to follow change in muscle status over time with each person as his or her own control. We used exploratory factor analysis (EFA) to identify a unidimensional scale based on timed chair rises, lean mass, and grip strength divided by height. We used these three items and their EFA factor weights to construct SPSM (mean 9.0, median 9, range 0 [worst] to 18 [best] at baseline). Construct validity of the new measure, over a period of 36 months was examined. Results. SPSM required 8.5 pounds of equipment and 12.4 minutes to complete. It showed good score distribution and convergent, discriminant, and predictive validity with measures of muscle function, body composition, physical performance, psychological factors, and functional limitation cross-sectionally and with muscle function and body composition longitudinally. Extensive sensitivity analyses confirmed SPSM's robustness. Conclusions. SPSM is a brief, portable, and valid measure of sarcopenia for use in epidemiological research. Similar studies in other populations are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-394
Number of pages7
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • African Americans
  • Aging
  • Disability
  • Muscles


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