Frailty Screening in the Community Using the FRAIL Scale

Jean Woo, Ruby Yu, Moses Wong, Fannie Yeung, Martin Wong, Christopher Lum
Journal of the American Medical Directors Association 2015 May 1, 16 (5): 412-9

OBJECTIVES: To explore the feasibility of using the FRAIL scale in community screening of older Chinese people aged 65 years and older, followed by clinical validation by comprehensive geriatric assessment of those classified as pre-frail or frail.

DESIGN: Two-phase study: screening of people aged 65 years and older by trained volunteers, followed by comprehensive geriatric assessment by multidisciplinary staff for those classified as pre-frail or frail.

SETTING: Elderly Centers in the New Territories East Region of Hong Kong SAR China.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 816 members of elderly centers attending by themselves or accompanied by relatives.

MEASUREMENTS: For phase 1, questionnaire (including demographic, lifestyle, chronic diseases) and screening tools were administered by trained volunteers. These consist of the FRAIL scale, SARC-F to screen for sarcopenia, and mild cognitive impairment using the abbreviated screening for mild cognitive impairment (Abbreviated Memory Inventory for the Chinese). Blood pressure, body mass index, and grip strength were recorded. For phase 2, comprehensive geriatric assessment include questionnaires assessing lifestyle domain (physical activity, nutritional status using the Mini-Nutritional Assessment-Short Form), the physical domain (number of diseases and number of drugs, activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living disabilities, geriatric syndromes, self-rated health, sleep quality), cognitive and psychological domain (Mini-Mental State Examination, Geriatric Depression Scale), and social domain (income, housing, living satisfaction, family support).

RESULTS: The prevalence of pre-frailty and frailty were 52.4% and 12.5%, respectively. The prevalence for frailty increasing with age from 5.1% for those aged 65-69 years to 16.8% for those ≥75, being greater in women compared with men (13.9% vs 4.2%). Of those who were pre-frail or frail (n = 529), 42.5% had sarcopenia and 60.7% had mild cognitive impairment. Among those who were frail (n = 102), sarcopenia and mild cognitive impairment were also frequently present: 12.8% had sarcopenia, 14.7% had mild cognitive impairment, 63.7% had both sarcopenia and mild cognitive impairment, and only 8.8% had neither. In phase 2, participants who were classified as pre-frail or frail (n = 529) were invited for further interviews; 255 participants (48.2%) returned. Compared with the pre-frail group, those in the frail group were less physically active, had higher number of chronic diseases, were taking more medications (more were taking sleeping pills), reported more falls, rated their health as poor, had higher prevalence of depressive symptoms and mild cognitive impairment, had higher prevalence of sarcopenia, and a high number of activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living disabilities.

CONCLUSION: The FRAIL scale may be used as the first step in a step care approach to detecting frailty in the community, allowing targeted intervention to potentially retard decline and future disability.

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