Remote assessment of functional mobility and strength in older cancer survivors: Protocol for a validity and reliability study

Cindy K. Blair, Elizabeth Harding, Carla Herman, Tawny Boyce, Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Sally Davis, Anita Y. Kinney, Vernon S. Pankratz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Older cancer survivors, faced with both age- and treatment-related morbidity, are at increased and premature risk for physical function limitations. Physical performance is an important predictor of disability, quality of life, and premature mortality, and thus is considered an important target of interventions designed to prevent, delay, or attenuate the physical functional decline. Currently, low-cost, valid, and reliable methods to remotely assess physical performance tests that are self-administered by older adults in the home-setting do not exist, thus limiting the reach, scalability, and dissemination of interventions. Objective: This paper will describe the rationale and design for a study to evaluate the accuracy, reliability, safety, and acceptability of videoconferencing and self-administered tests of functional mobility and strength by older cancer survivors in their own homes. Methods: To enable remote assessment, participants receive a toolkit and instructions for setting up their test course and communicating with the investigator. Two standard gerontologic performance tests are being evaluated: The Timed Up and Go test and the 30-second chair stand test. Phase 1 of the study evaluates proof-of-concept that older cancer survivors (age ≥60 years) can follow the testing protocol and use a tablet PC to communicate with the study investigator. Phase 2 evaluates the criterion validity of videoconference compared to direct observation of the two physical performance tests. Phase 3 evaluates reliability by enrolling 5-10 participants who agree to repeat the remote assessment (without direct observation). Phase 4 enrolls 5-10 new study participants to complete the remote assessment test protocol. Feedback from participants in each phase is used to refine the test protocol and instructions. Results: Enrollment began in December 2019. Ten participants completed the Phase 1 proof-of-concept. The study was paused in mid-March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The study is expected to be completed by the end of 2020. Conclusions: This validity and reliability study will provide important information on the acceptability and safety of using videoconferencing to remotely assess two tests of functional mobility and strength, self-administered by older adults in their homes. Videoconferencing has the potential to expand the reach, scalability, and dissemination of interventions to older cancer survivors, and potentially other older adults, especially in rural areas.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere20834
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


  • Cancer
  • Cancer survivors
  • Elderly
  • Older adults
  • Physical activity
  • Physical function
  • Physical performance
  • Remote assessment
  • Telehealth
  • Videoconferencing


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