Physician Research Finds Opportunities To Improve Care

Jul 17, 2022

“We’re on a Mission. Yours.” is more than a slogan for Reingold: It means we do whatever it takes to find answers for our clients. So when the nonprofit Alliance for Aging Research asked us to unearth what physicians know about sarcopenia — a serious condition that saps muscle mass and strength — we identified information gaps that indicate how physician education could make an enormous difference in the lives of aging patients.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to help an organization gain clarity amid all the static and chaos of the world today,” says Laura Lattimer, the Reingold director who oversaw our research study and wrote the final report.

Primary research projects provide that opportunity by distilling the complexities of the human experience into clear themes and reliable data.

“If designed properly, primary research projects provide that opportunity by distilling the complexities of the human experience into clear themes and reliable data — all to power data-driven strategies that make an impact in addressing important issues.”

Understanding Sarcopenia

Sarcopenia diminishes a person’s quality of life by reducing their ability to perform simple tasks, like climbing stairs or getting out of a chair — which can lead to the loss of independence. Muscle weakness also increases the risk of falls and serious injuries that can require surgery or hospitalization, leading to a slow decline in later life. Even to health care providers, the symptoms might appear to be a normal part of the aging process, leaving patients undiagnosed and untreated.

Little research has been done on sarcopenia, which was recognized only in 2016 as a distinctive diagnostic code worthy of monitoring as a public health concern. AAR sought a clearer picture of what physicians know about sarcopenia as a step toward communicating risks and treatment options to health care providers, patients and their families, and policymakers.

To bring that picture into focus, Lattimer and Kelley Slone, a Reingold senior associate, designed a research plan that included interviews and surveys with physicians. Reingold worked with Medscape, the market research arm of the global medical news organization WebMD, to distribute the survey to physicians. More than 250 physicians participated, all of them specialists in internal medicine, family medicine, geriatric medicine, or physical medicine and rehabilitation and primarily working with patients ages 65 and older.

Putting Research Findings to Work

Reingold’s research found a lack of information about sarcopenia among nearly half the physicians surveyed. Most striking to AAR were these results:

  • 43% of respondents said that physicians would screen for sarcopenia more often if there were clearer clinical practice guidelines for diagnosing and treating it.
  • 41% of respondents said that physicians would screen more often if there were “greater understanding of sarcopenia’s causes, effects, and intervention options.”

The AAR research project demonstrates how Reingold’s strategic approach to communications goes beyond analyzing data. In our final report to AAR, Reingold interpreted our findings to suggest how outreach and engagement tactics could make a lifesaving difference in delivering care for aging patients. This education effort would advance the work of the Aging in Motion Coalition, which AAR initiated to improve the lives of people experiencing or at risk for sarcopenia. In addition, AAR is seeking to publish the research results in a peer-reviewed medical journal to contribute to the fields of geriatric and primary care.

 “Whether we’re doing hard-hitting primary research as we did for AAR, conducting general research on the communications landscape, or simply using our business intelligence software to gather audience insights, Reingold always does our due diligence to produce recommendations grounded in facts,” Lattimer explains. “We go where the data tells us to go. That’s the kind of strategy we bring to our clients.”

For more information on Reingold’s research-based services to support your needs, email Joseph LaMountain.


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