Original Study| Volume 22, ISSUE 3, P577-582.e2, March 2021

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Depressive Symptoms and Frailty Among the Oldest Old: Evidence From a Multicenter Prospective Study

Published:November 19, 2020DOI:



      There is a lack of studies disentangling whether changes in frailty are associated with subsequent changes in depressive symptoms or vice versa among the oldest old. Consequently, we aimed to disentangle this link.


      Three waves [follow-up (FU) wave 7 to FU wave 9; n = 423 individuals in the analytical sample] were used from the multicenter prospective cohort study “Needs, Health Service Use, Costs and Health-Related Quality of Life in a Large Sample of Oldest-Old Primary Care Patients (85+)” (AgeQualiDe).

      Setting and Participants

      Primary care patients aged 85 years and older.


      The Canadian Study of Health and Aging (CSHA) Clinical Frailty Scale (CFS) was used to quantify frailty, and the Geriatric Depression Scale was used to measure depressive symptoms. It was adjusted for several covariates (sociodemographic and health-related factors) in regression analysis.


      Multiple linear regressions with first differences showed that initial increases in depressive symptoms (from FU wave 7 to FU wave 8) were associated with subsequent increases in frailty (from FU wave 8 to FU wave 9; β = 0.06, P < .05), whereas initial increases in frailty (from FU wave 7 to FU wave 8) were not associated with subsequent increases in depressive symptoms (from FU wave 8 to FU wave 9).

      Conclusions and Implications

      The study findings suggest the relevance of increases in depressive symptoms for subsequent increases in frailty. Treatment of depressive symptoms may also be beneficial to postpone frailty.


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