Association between Physical Frailty and Quality of Life in a Representative Sample of Community-Dwelling Swiss Older People

J Nutr Health Aging. 2017;21(5):585-592. doi: 10.1007/s12603-016-0772-4.


Objective: Though the association between physical frailty and health is well established, little is known about its association with other domains of quality of life (QoL). This study investigated the association between physical frailty and multiple domains of QoL in community-dwelling older people.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting and participants: Data of the 2011 annual assessment of 927 older people (age 73-77 years) from the Lc65+ cohort study were used.

Measurements: Physical frailty was assessed by Fried's five criteria: 'shrinking'; 'weakness'; 'poor endurance, exhaustion'; 'slowness'; and 'low activity'. QoL was assessed using 28 items yielding a QoL score and seven domain-specific QoL subscores (Feeling of safety; Health and mobility; Autonomy; Close entourage; Material resources; Esteem and recognition; and Social and cultural life). Low QoL (QoL score or QoL subscores in the lowest quintile) was used as dependent variable in logistic regression analyses adjusted for age and sex (model 1), and additionally for socioeconomic (model 2) and health (model 3) covariates.

Results: Physical frailty was associated with a low QoL score, as well as decreased QoL subscores in all seven specific domains, even after adjusting for socio-economic covariates. However, when performing additional adjustment for health covariates, only the domain Health and mobility remained significantly associated with physical frailty. Among each specific Fried's criteria, 'slowness' had the strongest association with a low QoL score.

Conclusion: Physical frailty is associated with all QoL domains, but these associations are largely explained by poor health characteristics. Longitudinal studies are needed to better understand temporal relationships between physical frailty, health and QoL.

Keywords: Frailty; aged; health; quality of life; socioeconomic factors.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Body Height
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fatigue
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Muscle Strength
  • Physical Endurance
  • Physical Examination
  • Quality of Life*
  • Social Environment
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Switzerland