Toward a conceptual definition of frail community dwelling older people

Nurs Outlook. 2010 Mar-Apr;58(2):76-86. doi: 10.1016/j.outlook.2009.09.005.


In order to be able to identify frail community-dwelling older people, a reliable and valid definition of the concept of frailty is necessary. The aim of this study was to provide an overview of the literature on conceptual and operational definitions of frailty, and to determine which definitions are most appropriate for identifying frail community-dwelling older people. Therefore, a computerized search was performed in the PubMed database, Web of Science and PsychInfo. A successful definition of frailty reflects a multidimensional approach, makes clear its dynamic state, predicts adverse outcomes, does not include disease, comorbidity or disability, and meets the criterion of practicability. None of the current conceptual and operational definitions meet these criteria. In this article a new integral conceptual definition of frailty is proposed which meets the criteria of a successful definition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Consensus
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Geriatric Assessment* / methods
  • Homebound Persons*
  • Humans
  • Models, Nursing*
  • Nursing Assessment* / methods
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Research Design
  • Vulnerable Populations