Original Study| Volume 22, ISSUE 3, P564-569, March 2021

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Incidence of Frailty in Community-Dwelling United States Older Veterans

Published:November 21, 2020DOI:



      Determine the incidence rates of frailty among community-dwelling older veterans.


      Population-based retrospective cohort study.

      Setting and Participants

      Veterans Health Administration Medical Center study included community-dwelling veterans 60 years and older with determinations of frailty from 2013 to 2014 and followed until September 2019.


      A 31-item frailty index was generated at baseline and during each subsequent primary care encounters as a proportion of potential variables from electronic health record data. Period prevalence was calculated by dividing total number of cases of frailty during the baseline period. After adjusting for covariates, the association of frailty with mortality was determined using a multivariate Cox regression model. Using baseline and follow-up data, incidence rates of frailty per 1000 person/years based on event rates and mean duration of follow-up were calculated, including survivor and entire cohorts.


      Patients in this cohort were 16,761 veterans, mean age 72.18 (9.32) years, 74.00% Caucasian, 90.75% non-Hispanic, and 97.78% male. The period prevalence of frailty in this cohort was 20.84%. Over a median follow-up of 3.96 (interquartile range = 3.73) years, 25.86% of the baseline population died during follow up. Veterans with frailty had a higher all-cause mortality during follow up, adjusted hazard ratio = 3.12 (95% confidence interval 2.87-3.38), P value of < .0005. Among 10,513 veterans who survived a median follow-up of 4.81 (interquartile range = 3.12) years, 29.84% became frail. The incidence rate of frailty was 75.05 cases per 1000 person-years. Among the entire cohort of 13,268 nonfrail veterans, 29.93% became frail. The incidence rate of frailty was 84.03 cases per 1000 person-years.

      Conclusions and Implications

      This study shows high incidence of frailty in community dwelling older US veterans. Future studies should be done for identification, implementation of adequate interventions aimed at preventing frailty or reducing frailty-related complications in community dwelling older individuals.


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