Frailty state transitions and associated factors in South Australian older adults

Mark Q. Thompson, Olga Theou, Robert John Adams, Graeme R.R. Tucker, Renuka Visvanathan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: Frailty is a state of decreased physiological reserve and vulnerability to stressors. Understanding the characteristics of those most at risk of worsening, or likely to improve their frailty status, are key elements in addressing this condition. The present study measured frailty state transitions and factors associated with improvement or worsening frailty status in the North West Adelaide Health Study. Methods: Frailty was measured using the frailty phenotype (FP) and a 34-item frailty index (FI) for 696 community-dwelling participants aged ≥65 years, with repeated measures at 4.5-year follow up. Results: Improvement in frailty state was common for both tools (FP 15.5%; FI 7.9%). The majority remained stable (FP 44.4%; FI 52.6%), and many transitioned to a worse level of frailty (FP 40.1%; FI 39.5%). For both measures, multimorbidity was associated with worsening frailty among non-frail participants. Among pre-frail participants, normal waist circumference was associated with improvement, whereas older age was associated with worsening of frailty status. Among frail individuals, younger age was associated with improvement, and male sex and older age were associated with worsening frailty status. Conclusions: Frailty is a dynamic process where improvement is possible. Multimorbidity, obesity, age and sex were associated with frailty transitions for both tools. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2018; 18: 1549–1555.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1549-1555
Number of pages7
JournalGeriatrics and Gerontology International
Issue number11
Early online date16 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Australia
  • cohort studies
  • epidemiology
  • frailty
  • aged


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