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GPs go forth

'Sit-to-stand' test can measure physical function in patients with COPD

A measure of the time taken for patients with COPD to stand from sitting is a reliable outcome measure in patients with COPD, say UK researchers.


The study

They evaluated the ‘sit-to stand’ test (5STS) – which measures the time taken to stand five times from a sitting position as rapidly as possible – in 50 patients with COPD. They compared the measurement with other tests for exercise capacity, lower limb strength and health status. The team also assessed the responsiveness of 5STS to physical function changes in 239 patients who performed the test before and after undergoing pulmonary rehabilitation training.

The findings

The 5STS showed excellent test-retest and interobserver reliability and correlated significantly with the incremental shuttle walk (ISW), quadriceps maximum voluntary contraction (QMVC), the St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) and mortality index iBODE. Some 70 (15%) of patients who failed to complete the 5STS had very significantly reduced exercise capacity and quadriceps strength, compared with those who were able to complete it. Patients who underwent pulmonary rehabilitation experienced a significant improvement in median 5STS time of 1.4 seconds and the researchers calculated that the minimum clinically important change in 5STS was a reduction of 1.7 seconds.   

What this means for GPs

The authors say the 5STS could offer a simple and cheap way to assess physical function in patients with COPD, as well as a rapid way to screen them for poor physical functioning. They concluded: ‘The 5STS may be particularly useful as a functional outcome tool in certain healthcare settings, such as the outpatient clinic or home setting, where space and equipment may be at a premium.’

Thorax 2013; available online 19 June

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Readers' comments (1)

  • The findings of this study are significant. I do not have the room at my surgery to conduct an incremental shuttle walk. I believe is might also be a very useful way of encouraging unconvinced patients to enrol on the Pulmonary Rehab programme

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