Background: Frailty, a validated measure of physiologic reserve, predicts adverse health outcomes among adults with end-stage renal disease. Frailty typically is not measured clinically; instead, a surrogate-perceived frailty-is used to inform clinical decision-making. Because correlations between perceived and measured frailty remain unknown, the aim of this study was to assess their relationship.
Methods: 146 adults undergoing hemodialysis were recruited from a single dialysis center in Baltimore, Maryland. Patient characteristics associated with perceived (reported by nephrologists, nurse practitioners (NPs), or patients) or measured frailty (using the Fried criteria) were identified using ordered logistic regression. The relationship between perceived and measured frailty was assessed using percent agreement, kappa statistic, Pearson's correlation coefficient, and prevalence of misclassification of frailty. Patient characteristics associated with misclassification were determined using Fisher's exact tests, t-tests, or median tests.
Results: Older age (adjusted OR [aOR] = 1.36, 95%CI:1.11-1.68, P = 0.003 per 5-years older) and comorbidity (aOR = 1.49, 95%CI:1.27-1.75, P < 0.001 per additional comorbidity) were associated with greater likelihood of nephrologist-perceived frailty. Being non-African American was associated with greater likelihood of NP- (aOR = 5.51, 95%CI:3.21-9.48, P = 0.003) and patient- (aOR = 4.20, 95%CI:1.61-10.9, P = 0.003) perceived frailty. Percent agreement between perceived and measured frailty was poor (nephrologist, NP, and patient: 64.1%, 67.0%, and 55.5%). Among non-frail participants, 34.4%, 30.0%, and 31.6% were perceived as frail by a nephrologist, NP, or themselves. Older adults (P < 0.001) were more likely to be misclassified as frail by a nephrologist; women (P = 0.04) and non-African Americans (P = 0.02) were more likely to be misclassified by an NP. Neither age, sex, nor race was associated with patient misclassification.
Conclusions: Perceived frailty is an inadequate proxy for measured frailty among patients undergoing hemodialysis.