Social frailty in older adults: a scoping review

Eur J Ageing. 2017 Jan 31;14(3):323-334. doi: 10.1007/s10433-017-0414-7. eCollection 2017 Sep.


Social frailty is a rather unexplored concept. In this paper, the concept of social frailty among older people is explored utilizing a scoping review. In the first stage, 42 studies related to social frailty of older people were compiled from scientific databases and analyzed. In the second stage, the findings of this literature were structured using the social needs concept of Social Production Function theory. As a result, it was concluded that social frailty can be defined as a continuum of being at risk of losing, or having lost, resources that are important for fulfilling one or more basic social needs during the life span. Moreover, the results of this scoping review indicate that not only the (threat of) absence of social resources to fulfill basic social needs should be a component of the concept of social frailty, but also the (threat of) absence of social behaviors and social activities, as well as (threat of) the absence of self-management abilities. This conception of social frailty provides opportunities for future research, and guidelines for practice and policy.

Keywords: Scoping review; Social frailty; Social needs; Social vulnerability.

Publication types

  • Review