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J Korean Med Sci. 2016 Mar;31(3):345-52. doi: 10.3346/jkms.2016.31.3.345. Epub 2016 Feb 4.

Prevalence of Frailty and Aging-Related Health Conditions in Older Koreans in Rural Communities: a Cross-Sectional Analysis of the Aging Study of Pyeongchang Rural Area.

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Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Daejeon, Korea .
Department of Internal Medicine, Pyeongchang Health Center & County Hospital, Pyeongchang, Korea .
Department of Internal Medicine, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea .
Department of Urology, Pyeongchang Health Center & County Hospital, Pyeongchang, Korea .
Community Health Post, Pyeongchang Health Center & County Hospital, Pyeongchang, Korea .
Manager of Public Health, Pyeongchang Health Center & County Hospital, Pyeongchang, Korea .
Division of Gerontology, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA .


Frailty has been previously studied in Western countries and the urban Korean population; however, the burden of frailty and geriatric conditions in the aging populations of rural Korean communities had not yet been determined. Thus, we established a population-based prospective study of adults aged ≥ 65 years residing in rural communities of Korea between October 2014 and December 2014. All participants underwent comprehensive geriatric assessment that encompassed the assessment of cognitive and physical function, depression, nutrition, and body composition using bioimpedance analysis. We determined the prevalence of frailty based on the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) and Korean version of FRAIL (K-FRAIL) criteria, as well as geriatric conditions. We recruited 382 adults (98% of eligible adults; mean age: 74 years; 56% women). Generally, sociodemographic characteristics were similar to those of the general rural Korean population. Common geriatric conditions included instrumental activity of daily living disability (39%), malnutrition risk (38%), cognitive dysfunction (33%), multimorbidity (32%), and sarcopenia (28%), while dismobility (8%), incontinence (8%), and polypharmacy (3%) were less common conditions. While more individuals were classified as frail according to the K-FRAIL criteria (27%) than the CHS criteria (17%), the CHS criteria were more strongly associated with prevalent geriatric conditions. Older Koreans living in rural communities have a significant burden of frailty and geriatric conditions that increase the risk of functional decline, poor quality of life, and mortality. The current study provides a basis to guide public health professionals and policy-makers in prioritizing certain areas of care and designing effective public health interventions to promote healthy aging of this vulnerable population.


Aged; Disability; Frailty; Geriatrics; Population Health; Sarcopenia

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