How can we prevent frail elderly patients from losing strength following a hospital admission?

As a result, many frail people require admission to hospital because they are unable to look after themselves at home. One of the reasons frail people struggle to recover from illness might be because they lose muscle and become weaker when in hospital due to lack of activity.

The aim of this study was to investigate changes in muscle strength in frail elderly patients following a hospital admission. Peter Hartley, a physiotherapist who is leading the study, asked for support from the CUH PPI panel to help design the intervention.

With the support of PPI Coordinator they coordinated a focus group of 10 individuals from the panel. The aim of the meeting was to discuss and gain views on the overall approach of the study; how to measure changes in strength and physical ability; and the panel’s views on patients having an exercise programme in hospital.


The focus group discussion raised a number of issues around the acceptability of this type of intervention in elderly patients (over 80). Practical suggestions were made which changed the outcome measures from counting 10 repeats of a standing/sitting exercise to however many the patient could manage.

The discussion and subsequent document review allowed Peter to modify the study design and give consideration as to how to sensitively recruit patients. Again the panel could clearly see the need for this research and the support for activities to help elderly patients retain muscle strength and mobility.

Peter’s grant application was successful, and he was awarded a highly competitive Dunhill Medical Trust Research Training Fellowship award which will allow him to carry out this research over the next three years.

Discover more about the NIHR Cambridge BRC

Contact us by phone, email or web for more information.

Events Calendar

Listing relevant events and training sessions for researchers and members of the public.