Clinical Epidemiology and Ageing

Assessment of Frailty by the French Version of the Vulnerable Elders Survey-13 on Digital Tablet: Validation Study.

Zolnowski-Kolp V, Din NUm, Havreng-Théry C, Pariel S, Veyron J-H, Lafuente-Lafuente C, Belmin J J Med Internet Res. 2023;25:e42017.

BACKGROUND: Frailty assessment is a major issue in geriatric medicine. The Vulnerable Elders Survey-13 (VES-13) is a simple and practical tool that identifies frailty through a 13-item questionnaire completed by older adults or their family caregivers by self-administration (pencil and paper) or by telephone interview. The VES-13 provides a 10-point score that is also a recognized mortality predictor.

OBJECTIVE: This study aims to design an electronic version of the Echelle de Vulnérabilité des Ainés-13, the French version of the VES-13 (eEVA-13) for use on a digital tablet and validate it.

METHODS: The scale was implemented as a web App in 3 different screens and used on an Android tablet (14.0× 25.6 cm). Participants were patients attending the outpatient clinic of a French geriatric hospital or hospitalized in a rehabilitation ward and family caregivers of geriatric patients. They completed the scale twice, once by a reference method (self-administered questionnaire or telephone interview) and once by eEVA-13 using the digital tablet. Agreement for diagnosis of frailty was assessed with the κ coefficient, and scores were compared by Bland and Altman plots and interclass correlation coefficients. User experience was assessed by a self-administered questionnaire.

RESULTS: In total, 86 participants, including 40 patients and 46 family caregivers, participated in the study. All family caregivers had previously used digital devices, while 13 (32.5%) and 10 (25%) patients had no or infrequent use of them previously. We observed no failure to complete the eEVA-13, and 70% of patients (28/40) and no family caregivers needed support to complete the eEVA-13. The agreement between the eEVA-13 and the reference method for the diagnosis of frailty was excellent (κ=0.92) with agreement in 83 cases and disagreement in 3 cases. The mean difference between the scores provided by the 2 scales was 0.081 (95% CI-1.263 to 1.426). Bland and Altman plots showed a high level of agreement between the eEVA-13 and the reference methods and interclass correlation coefficient value was 0.997 (95% CI 0.994-0.998) for the paper and tablet group and 0.977 (95% CI 0.957-0.988) for the phone and tablet groups. The tablet assessment was found to be easy to use by 77.5% (31/40) of patients and by 96% (44/46) of caregivers. Finally, 85% (39/46) of family caregivers and 50% (20/40) of patients preferred the eEVA-13 to the original version.

CONCLUSIONS: The eEVA-13 is an appropriate digital tool for diagnosing frailty and can be used by older adults and their family caregivers. The scores obtained with eEVA-13 are highly correlated with those obtained with the original version. The use of health questionnaires on digital tablets is feasible in frail and very old patients, although some patients may need help to use them.

MeSH terms: Aged; Frail Elderly; Frailty; Geriatric Assessment; Humans; Surveys and Questionnaires
DOI: 10.2196/42017