Levels of frailty and frailty progression in older urban- and regional-living First Nations Australians

Ebony T Lewis*, Kaarin J Anstey, Kylie Radford, Nicole Mealing, Magnolia Cardona, Adrienne Withall, Kenneth Rockwood, Ruth Peters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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OBJECTIVES: To explore the prevalence of frailty, association between frailty and mortality, and transitions between frailty states in urban- and regional-living First Nations Australians.

STUDY DESIGN: Secondary analysis of longitudinal data from the Koori Growing Old Well Study. First Nations Australians aged 60 years or more from five non-remote communities were recruited in 2010-2012 and followed up six years later (2016-2018). Data collected at both visits were used to derive a 38-item Frailty Index (FI). The FI (range 0-1.0) was classified as robust (<0.1), pre-frail (0.1- < 0.2), mildly (0.2- < 0.3), moderately (0.3- < 0.4) or severely frail (≥0.4).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Association between frailty and mortality, examined using logistic regression and transitions in frailty (the percentage of participants who changed frailty category) during follow-up.

RESULTS: At baseline, 313 of 336 participants (93 %) had sufficient data to calculate a FI. Median FI score was 0.26 (interquartile range 0.21-0.39); 4.79 % were robust, 20.1 % pre-frail, 31.6 % mildly frail, 23.0 % moderately frail and 20.5 % severely frail. Higher baseline frailty was associated with mortality among severely frail participants (adjusted odds ratio 7.11, 95 % confidence interval 2.51-20.09) but not moderately or mildly frail participants. Of the 153 participants with a FI at both baseline and follow-up, their median FI score increased from 0.26 to 0.28.

CONCLUSIONS: Levels of frailty in this First Nations cohort are substantially higher than in similar-aged non-Indigenous populations. Screening for frailty before the age of 70 years may be warranted in First Nations Australians. Further research is urgently needed to determine the factors that are driving such high levels of frailty and propose solutions to prevent or manage frailty in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107962
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
Early online date5 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


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