A closer look at frailty in ESRD: getting the measure right

Hemodial Int. 2013 Jan;17(1):41-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1542-4758.2012.00719.x. Epub 2012 Jun 20.


Patients treated with dialysis have low levels of physical functioning and activity. Whether this translates into frailty or not may depend on how the frailty phenotype is operationalized. This is a secondary analysis of data from the Renal Exercise Demonstration Project to evaluate two methods of operationalizing the Fried phenotype for frailty: Using measured walking speed and muscle weakness (FRAILmeas) and using substitution of the Physical Function Scale (PF) from the SF-36 questionnaire for walking speed and muscle weakness (FRAILsubst). Complete data for both measures were available for 188 hemodialysis patients. The frailty score (FRAILmeas) was the sum of criteria scores for measured gait speed, chair stand, body mass index, vitality, and physical activity. The frailty score (FRAILsubst) substituted the PF scale score (<75) as a surrogate measure for gait speed and for weakness. The frailty score ranged from 0 to 5. Scores ≥3 were categorized as frail, and <3 as not frail. The substitution of the PF score for walking speed and muscle weakness resulted in 78% of patients being categorized as frail compared to 24% using actual measured walking speed and muscle weakness (P < .001). The component of frailty that had the highest prevalence was low physical activity (average 54% of subjects). Frailty (using the FRAILmeas) was higher in patients with increasing age, female gender, and lower self-reported PF. Frailty is highly prevalent in hemodialysis patients; however, measured constructs of the components of frailty should be used to report the frailty phenotype.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / rehabilitation
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Quality of Life
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Risk Assessment