Health-related and socio-demographic factors associated with frailty in the elderly: a systematic literature review

Cad Saude Publica. 2014 Jun;30(6):1143-68. doi: 10.1590/0102-311x00148213.
[Article in En, Portuguese]


Frailty is a syndrome that leads to practical harm in the lives of elders, since it is related to increased risk of dependency, falls, hospitalization, institutionalization, and death. The objective of this systematic review was to identify the socio-demographic, psycho-behavioral, health-related, nutritional, and lifestyle factors associated with frailty in the elderly. A total of 4,183 studies published from 2001 to 2013 were detected in the databases, and 182 complete articles were selected. After a comprehensive reading and application of selection criteria, 35 eligible articles remained for analysis. The main factors associated with frailty were: age, female gender, black race/color, schooling, income, cardiovascular diseases, number of comorbidities/diseases, functional incapacity, poor self-rated health, depressive symptoms, cognitive function, body mass index, smoking, and alcohol use. Knowledge of the complexity of determinants of frailty can assist the formulation of measures for prevention and early intervention, thereby contributing to better quality of life for the elderly.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly / psychology*
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors