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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2006 Mar;61(3):262-6.

Phenotype of frailty: characterization in the women's health and aging studies.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biostatistics, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA. kbandeen@jhsph.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

"Frailty" is an adverse, primarily gerontologic, health condition regarded as frequent with aging and having severe consequences. Although clinicians claim that the extremes of frailty can be easily recognized, a standardized definition of frailty has proved elusive until recently. This article evaluates the cross-validity, criterion validity, and internal validity in the Women's Health and Aging Studies (WHAS) of a discrete measure of frailty recently validated in the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS).

METHODS:

The frailty measure developed in CHS was delineated in the WHAS data sets. Using latent class analysis, we evaluated whether criteria composing the measure aggregate into a syndrome. We verified the criterion validity of the measure by testing whether participants defined as frail were more likely than others to develop adverse geriatric outcomes or to die.

RESULTS:

The distributions of frailty in the WHAS and CHS were comparable. In latent class analyses, the measures demonstrated strong internal validity vis à vis stated theory characterizing frailty as a medical syndrome. In proportional hazards models, frail women had a higher risk of developing activities of daily living (ADL) and/or instrumental ADL disability, institutionalization, and death, independently of multiple potentially confounding factors.

CONCLUSIONS:

The findings of this study are consistent with the widely held theory that conceptualizes frailty as a syndrome. The frailty definition developed in the CHS is applicable across diverse population samples and identifies a profile of high risk of multiple adverse outcomes.

Comment in

  • Frailty and the foolishness of Eos. [J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2006]
PMID:
16567375
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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