Frailty and its quantitative clinical evaluation

J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 2012;42(4):333-40. doi: 10.4997/JRCPE.2012.412.


Frailty is a progressive physiological decline in multiple organ systems marked by loss of function, loss of physiological reserve and increased vulnerability to disease and death. Frail older adults are vulnerable to poor health outcomes including an increased risk of disability, social isolation and institutionalisation. With the advances in understanding of the physiological underpinnings and clinical measurement of frailty over the past decade, opportunities both to streamline and quantify the clinical measurement and care planning associated with frailty have emerged. Such tools allow clinicians to recognise and quantify frailty in order to understand a patient's vulnerability to poor health outcomes in a way that chronological age does not provide. Clinical research into outcomes associated with frailty in specific settings is ongoing and will be instrumental to the provision of appropriate care of older adults in the future.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Health Services for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Patient Care Planning*
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*