Factors Associated With Improving or Worsening the State of Frailty: A Secondary Data Analysis of a 5-Year Longitudinal Study

Daphne Sze Ki Cheung, Rick Yiu Cho Kwan, Anthony Siu Wo Wong, Lily Yuen Wah Ho, Kenny C.W. Chin, Justina Yat Wah Liu, Mimi Mun Yee Tse, Claudia Kam Yuk Lai

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study aims to examine the frailty transition patterns of older adults recruited from both community and residential care settings within a 5-year period, and to identify the physical and psychosocial factors associated with the transitions. Design: This study is a secondary data analysis of a longitudinal study for tracking the change of health status of older adults 60 years of age or older. Participants who had undergone at least two assessments during 2013–2017 were selected for analysis. Guided by the Gobben’s Frailty Model, biopsychosocial predictors were comprehensively identified from the literature, and their relationship to frailty state transition was explored. Methods: We compared the baseline characteristics of participants at the frail, pre-frail, and robust states (categorized using the Fried Frailty Index). A generalized estimating equation was used to identify factors associated with an improvement or a deterioration in frailty. The probability of transitions between frailty states was calculated. Findings: Among the 306 participants, 19% (n = 59) improved and 30% (n = 92) declined in frailty within the project period. Sleep difficulties (odds ratio [OR] = 1.76; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.07–2.90; p =.027), better cognitive status (OR = 0.80–0.84; 95% CI: 0.66–0.98 and 0.73–2.73; p =.031 and.018), good nutritional status (OR = 0.74; 95% CI: 0.59–0.91; p =.005), slow mobility (OR = 1.03–1.13; 95% CI: 1.00–1.05 and 1.03–1.25; p =.047 and.014), hearing impairment (OR = 2.83; 95% CI: 1.00–8.01; p =.05), better quality of health—physical domain (OR = 0.95; 95% CI: 0.92–0.99; p =.006), and better functional ability (OR = 0.85–0.97; 95% CI: 0.79–0.92 and 0.96–0.99; p '.001 and p =.003) were significant associated factors in the worsening group. More physical activity (OR = 1.01; 95% CI: 1.00–1.01 and 1.01–1.02; p =.026 and p '.001), hearing impairment (OR = 0.26; 95% CI: 0.08–0.86; p =.028), and slow mobility (OR = 0.93; 95% CI: 0.87–1.00; p =.037) were significant associated factors in the improvement group. Conclusions: Frailty is a crucial global public health issue. This study provides evidence for nurses to holistically consider the associated factors and to design effective interventions to combat frailty in our ageing society. Clinical Relevance: Frailty is a transient state that can be reversed. Professional nurses working in both community and residential care settings should be able to identify older adults at risk and improve their health conditions appropriately.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-526
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Nursing Scholarship
Issue number5
Early online dateAug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • Ageing
  • cognition
  • exercise
  • frailty
  • longitudinal study
  • mobility
  • nutritional status
  • transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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