Frailty in Young and Middle-Aged Adults: An Integrative Review

Courtney Loecker, M. Schmaderer, L. Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: Frailty is a public health priority resulting in poor health outcomes and early mortality in older adults. Early identification, management, and prevention of frailty may reduce frailty trajectory into later life. However, little is known about frailty in younger adults. Objective: Describe frailty prevalence, definitions, study designs, and components contributing to multidimensional frailty in 18 to 65-year-olds and impart guidance for future research, practice, and policies with potential to positively impact frail individuals. Methods: Integrative review approach was selected to explore frailty allowing for inclusion of diverse methodologies and varied persepectives while maintaining rigor and applicability to evidence-based practice initiatives. CINAHL, Embase, PsycInfo, PubMed databases were searched for studies describing frailty in adults age 18 to 65. Articles were excluded if published prior to 2010, not in English, lacked frailty focus, or non-Western culture. Results: Twelve descriptive correlational studies were included. No intervention or qualitative studies were identified. No standard conceptual definition of frailty was discovered. Studied in participants with health disparities (n=3) and chronic conditions (n=8); HIV was most common (n=4). Frailty prevalence ranged from 3.9% (313 of 8095) to 63% (24 of 38). Many factors associated with frailty were identified among physical (18) and social (14), and fewer among psychological (11) domains. Conclusions: Universal frailty definition and multidimensional assessment tool is needed to generate generalizable results in future studies describing frailty in young and middle-aged adults. Early frailty identification by clinicians has potential to facilitate development and implementation of targeted interventions to prevent or mitigate frailty progression, but additional research is needed because risk factors in younger populations may be different than older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-333
Number of pages7
JournalThe Journal of frailty & aging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Frail
  • disability
  • medical frailty
  • middle age
  • young adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Aging


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