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Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2013 Jun;21(6):560-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2012.12.019. Epub 2013 Feb 6.

Are depression and frailty overlapping syndromes in mid- and late-life? A latent variable analysis.

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Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond. Electronic address:



Depression and frailty both predict disability and morbidity in later life. However, it is unclear to what extent these common geriatric syndromes represent overlapping constructs.


To examine the joint relationship between the constructs of depression and frailty.


Data come from 2004-2005 wave of the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study, and the analysis is limited to participants 40 years and older, with complete data on frailty and depression indicators (N = 683). Depression was measured using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule, and frailty was indexed by modified Fried criteria. A series of confirmatory latent class analyses were used to assess the degree to which depression and frailty syndromes identify the same populations. A latent kappa coefficient (κl) was also estimated between the constructs.


Confirmatory latent class analyses indicated that depression and frailty represent distinct syndromes rather than a single construct. The joint modeling of the two constructs supported a three-class solution for depression and two-class solution for frailty, with 2.9% categorized as severely depressed, 19.4% as mildly depressed, and 77.7% as not depressed, and 21.1% categorized as frail and 78.9% as not frail. The chance-corrected agreement statistic indicated moderate correspondence between the depression and frailty constructs (κl: 66, 95% confidence interval: 0.58-0.74).


Results suggest that depression and frailty are interrelated concepts, yet their operational criteria identify substantively overlapping subpopulations. These findings have implications for understanding factors that contribute to the etiology and prognosis of depression and frailty in later life.

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