Open Access Research article

Prospective association of the SHARE-operationalized frailty phenotype with adverse health outcomes: evidence from 60+ community-dwelling Europeans living in 11 countries

Nejma S Macklai*, Jacques Spagnoli, Julien Junod and Brigitte Santos-Eggimann

Author Affiliations

Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (IUMPS), Lausanne University Hospital, 10 route de la Corniche, 1010, Lausanne, Switzerland

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BMC Geriatrics 2013, 13:3  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-13-3

Published: 3 January 2013



Among the many definitions of frailty, the frailty phenotype defined by Fried et al. is one of few constructs that has been repeatedly validated: first in the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) and subsequently in other large cohorts in the North America. In Europe, the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) is a gold mine of individual, economic and health information that can provide insight into better understanding of frailty across diverse population settings. A recent adaptation of the original five CHS-frailty criteria was proposed to make use of SHARE data and measure frailty in the European population. To test the validity of the SHARE operationalized frailty phenotype, this study aims to evaluate its prospective association with adverse health outcomes.


Data are from 11,015 community-dwelling men and women aged 60+ participating in wave 1 and 2 of the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe, a population-based survey. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to assess the 2-year follow up effect of SHARE-operationalized frailty phenotype on the incidence of disability (disability-free at baseline) and on worsening disability and morbidity, adjusting for age, sex, income and baseline morbidity and disability.


At 2-year follow up, frail individuals were at increased risk for: developing mobility (OR 3.07, 95% CI, 1.02-9.36), IADL (OR 5.52, 95% CI, 3.76-8.10) and BADL (OR 5.13, 95% CI, 3.53-7.44) disability; worsening mobility (OR 2.94, 95% CI, 2.19- 3.93) IADL (OR 4.43, 95% CI, 3.19-6.15) and BADL disability (OR 4.53, 95% CI, 3.14-6.54); and worsening morbidity (OR 1.77, 95% CI, 1.35-2.32). These associations were significant even among the prefrail, but with a lower magnitude of effect.


The SHARE-operationalized frailty phenotype is significantly associated with all tested health outcomes independent of baseline morbidity and disability in community-dwelling men and women aged 60 and older living in Europe. The robustness of results validate the use of this phenotype in the SHARE survey for future research on frailty in Europe.

Frailty phenotype; Validation; Adverse outcomes; Population survey; SHARE; BADL disability; IADL disability; Morbidity