Study purposes were to evaluate for inter-individual variability in the trajectories of three objective measures of physical function (PF) in older patients receiving chemotherapy (n = 112) and determine which characteristics were associated with worse PF.
Balance, gait speed, and chair-stand test were evaluated at initiation and 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months following chemotherapy. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to assess inter-individual variability in the trajectories of the three tests. Demographic, clinical, and symptom characteristics, and levels of cognitive function associated with initial levels and changes over time in each of the tests were determined.
Gait speed and chair-stand tests improved over time. Balance declined until month 6, then increased. Characteristics associated with decreases in balance scores at initiation of chemotherapy were lower level of education and lower Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) score. For initial levels of poorer gait speed, older age, poorer Trail Making Test B (TMTB), and worse Attentional Function Index scores were the associated characteristics. Lower KPS scores, higher body mass index, and poorer TMTB scores were associated with poorer chair-stand times at initiation of chemotherapy. Worse trajectories of chair-stand times were associated with poorer chair-stand time at enrollment. Characteristic associated with lower initial levels and improved trajectories of balance was older age at enrollment.
Determination of characteristics associated with decrements in balance, gait speed, and chair-stand can assist clinicians to identify older oncology patients at risk for decrements in PF. Interventions to maintain and improve PF need to be implemented with higher risk patients.