The Prevalence and Correlates of Frailty in Urban and Rural Populations in Latin America, China, and India: A 10/66 Population-Based Survey.

03 Jan 2018
Llibre Rodriguez JJ, Prina AM, Acosta D, Guerra M, Huang Y, Jacob KS, Jimenez-Velasquez IZ, Salas A, Sosa AL, Williams JD, Jotheeswaran AT, Acosta I, Liu Z, Prince MJ


There have been few cross-national studies of the prevalence of the frailty phenotype conducted among low or middle income countries. We aimed to study the variation in prevalence and correlates of frailty in rural and urban sites in Latin America, India, and China.


Cross-sectional population-based catchment area surveys conducted in 8 urban and 4 rural catchment areas in 8 countries; Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Peru, Mexico, China, and India. We assessed weight loss, exhaustion, slow walking speed, and low energy consumption, but not hand grip strength. Therefore, frailty phenotype was defined on 2 or more of 4 of the usual 5 criteria.


We surveyed 17,031 adults aged 65 years and over. Overall frailty prevalence was 15.2% (95% confidence inteval 14.6%-15.7%). Prevalence was low in rural (5.4%) and urban China (9.1%) and varied between 12.6% and 21.5% in other sites. A similar pattern of variation was apparent after direct standardization for age and sex. Cross-site variation in prevalence of frailty indicators varied across the 4 indicators. Controlling for age, sex, and education, frailty was positively associated with older age, female sex, lower socioeconomic status, physical impairments, stroke, depression, dementia, disability and dependence, and high healthcare costs.


There was substantial variation in the prevalence of frailty and its indicators across sites in Latin America, India, and China. Culture and other contextual factors may impact significantly on the assessment of frailty using questionnaire and physical performance-based measures, and achieving cross-cultural measurement invariance remains a challenge.


A consistent pattern of correlates was identified, suggesting that in all sites, the frailty screen could identify older adults with multiple physical, mental, and cognitive morbidities, disability and needs for care, compounded by socioeconomic disadvantage and catastrophic healthcare spending.