The impact of frailty on healthcare utilisation in Ireland: evidence from the Irish longitudinal study on ageing

BMC Geriatr. 2017 Sep 5;17(1):203. doi: 10.1186/s12877-017-0579-0.


Introduction: To examine the impact of frailty on medical and social care utilisation among the Irish community-dwelling older population to inform strategies of integrated care for older people with complex needs.

Methods: Participants aged ≥65 years from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) representative of the Irish community-dwelling older population were analysed (n = 3507). The frailty index was used to examine patterns of utilisation across medical and social care services. Multivariate logistic and negative binomial regression models were employed to examine the impact of frailty on service utilisation outcomes after controlling for other factors.

Results: The prevalence of frailty and pre-frailty was 24% (95% CI: 23, 26%) and 45% (95% CI: 43, 47%) respectively. Frailty was a significant predictor of utilisation of most social care and medical care services after controlling for the main correlates of frailty and observed individual effects.

Conclusions: Frailty predicts utilisation of many different types of healthcare services rendering it a useful risk stratification tool for targeting strategies of integrated care. The pattern of care is predominantly medical as few of the frail older population use social care prompting questions about sub-groups of the frail older population with unmet care needs.

Keywords: Ageing; Complex needs; Frailty; Health and social care planning; Healthcare utilisation.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Frailty / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Prevalence