The feasibility of measuring frailty to predict disability and mortality in older medical intensive care unit survivors

J Crit Care. 2014 Jun;29(3):401-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2013.12.019. Epub 2014 Jan 6.


Purpose: To determine whether frailty can be measured within 4 days prior to hospital discharge in older intensive care unit (ICU) survivors of respiratory failure and whether it is associated with post-discharge disability and mortality.

Materials and methods: We performed a single-center prospective cohort study of 22 medical ICU survivors age 65 years or older who had received noninvasive or invasive mechanical ventilation for at least 24 hours. Frailty was defined as a score of ≥3 using Fried's 5-point scale. We measured disability with the Katz Activities of Daily Living. We estimated unadjusted associations between Fried's frailty score and incident disability at 1-month and 6-month mortality using Cox proportional hazard models.

Results: The mean (SD) age was 77 (9) years, mean Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score was 27 (9.7), mean frailty score was 3.4 (1.3), and 18 (82%) were frail. Nine subjects (41%) died within 6 months, and all were frail. Each 1-point increase in frailty score was associated with a 90% increased rate of incident disability at 1-month (rate ratio: 1.9, 95% CI 0.7-4.9) and a threefold increase in 6-month mortality (rate ratio: 3.0, 95% CI 1.4-6.3).

Conclusions: Frailty can be measured in older ICU survivors near hospital discharge and is associated with 6-month mortality in unadjusted analysis. Larger studies to determine if frailty independently predicts outcomes are warranted.

Keywords: Aged; Critically Ill; Disability; Frailty; Mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Critical Care
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Disabled Persons
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Patient Discharge
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy
  • Survivors