Frailty among community-dwelling elderly people in France: the three-city study

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2008 Oct;63(10):1089-96. doi: 10.1093/gerona/63.10.1089.


Background: To better understand the contribution of frailty to health-related outcomes in elderly persons, it seems valuable to explore data from cohort studies across the world in an attempt to establish a comprehensive definition. The purpose of this report is to show the characteristics of frailty and observe its prognosis in a large sample of French community-dwelling elderly persons.

Methods: We used data from 6078 persons 65 years old or older participating in the Three-City Study (3C). Frailty was defined as having at least three of the following criteria: weight loss, weakness, exhaustion, slowness, and low activity. Principal outcomes were incident disability, hospitalization, and death. Multiple covariates were used to test the predictive validity of frailty on these outcomes.

Results: Four hundred twenty-six individuals (7%) met frailty criteria. Participants classified as frail were significantly older, more likely to be female, and less educated and reported more chronic diseases, lower income, and poorer self-reported health status in comparison to nonfrail participants. In multivariate analysis, frailty was significantly associated with 4-year incidence of disability in activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental ADL. However, frailty was marginally associated with incident hospitalization and was not a statistically significant predictor of incident mobility disability or mortality adjusting for potential confounding factors.

Conclusions: Frailty is not specific to a subgroup or region of the world. The construct proposed by Fried and colleagues confirms its predictive validity for adverse-health outcomes, particularly for certain components of disability, thus suggesting that it may be useful in population screening and predicting service needs.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly*
  • France / epidemiology
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prognosis