Frailty as a predictive factor in geriatric trauma patient outcomes

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Objective. To evaluate the usefulness of the Frailty Index (FI) as a prognostic indicator of adverse outcomes in geriatric trauma patients,. Design. Prospective cohort study. Setting and participants. Geriatric (aged 65 and over) trauma patients admitted to inpatient units at a Level 1 trauma center in Arizona were enrolled. Patients were excluded if they were intubated/nonresponsive with no family members present or transferred from another institution (eg, skilled nursing facility). The following categories of data were collected: (a) patient demographics, (b) type and mechanism of injury, (c) vital signs (eg, Glasgow coma scale score, systolic blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature), (d) need for operative intervention, (e) in-hospital complications, (f) hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) lengths of stay, and (g) discharge disposition. Patients or, in the case of nonresponsive patients, their closest relative, responded to the 50-item Frailty Index questionnaire, which includes questions regarding age, comorbid conditions, medications, activities of daily living (ADLs), social activities, mood, and nutrition. FI score ranges from 0 (non-frail) to 1 (frail), with an FI of 0.25 or more indicative of frailty based on established guidelines. Patients were categorized as frail or non-frail according to their FI scores and were followed during the course of their hospitalization. Main outcome measure. The primary outcome measure was in-hospital complications. In-hospital complications included myocardial infarction, cardiopulmonary arrest, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, sepsis, urinary tract infection, deep venous thrombosis, disseminated intravascular coagulation, renal insufficiency, and reoperation. The secondary outcome measure was adverse discharge disposition, which was defined as death during the course of hospitalization or discharge to a skilled nursing facility. Main results. The sample consisted of 250 patients with a mean age of 77.9 years. Among these, 44.0% were considered frail. Patients with frailty were more likely to have a higher Injury Severity Score (P = 0.04) and a higher mean FI (P = 0.01) than those without frailty. There were no statistically significant differences with respect to age (P = 0.21), mechanism of injury (P = 0.09), systolic blood pressure (P = 0.30), or Glasgow Coma Scale score (P = 0.91) between the groups. Patients with frailty were more likely to develop in-hospital complications (37.3% vs 21.4%, P = 0.001) than those without frailty. Among these complications, pneumonia and urinary tract infection were the most common. There were no differences in the rate of reoperation (P = 0.54) between the 2 groups. An FI of 0.25 or higher was associated with the development of in-hospital complications (P = 0.001) even after adjusting for age, systolic blood pressure, heart rate, and Injury Severity Score. Frail patients had longer hospital length of stay (P = 0.01) and ICU length of stay (P = 0.01), and were more likely to have adverse discharge disposition (37.3% vs. 12.9%, P = 0.001). All patients who died during the course of hospitalization (n = 5) were considered frail. Frailty was also found to be a predictor of adverse discharge disposition (P = 0.001) after adjustment for age, male sex, Injury Severity Score, and mechanism of injury. Conclusion. The FI is effective in identifying geriatric trauma patients, who are vulnerable to poor health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-397
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of Clinical Outcomes Management
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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