Older adults’ perceptions and informational needs regarding frailty

Published on 2018-02-13T05:00:00Z (GMT) by
Abstract Background Frailty has been recognized as an important medical syndrome in older adults. Growing literature supports the clinical application of frailty but US older adults’ perceptions of frailty have not been explored. We aim to examine perceptions and informational needs about frailty among older adults. Methods This was a qualitative study involving focus groups of community-dwelling older adults with diverse age and frailty status. We explored participants’ beliefs and knowledge about frailty and informational needs about frailty as a medical syndrome. Results The participants’ mean age was 76.3. Of the 29 participants, 21 (72%) were female, and 21 (72%) were white. We identified three major themes: 1) Older adults’ perceptions of frailty differed from the definition used in medical literature; they often perceived a psychological component to being frailty and some were skeptical of the syndromic definition based on multiple symptoms. 2) Compared to participants who were non-frail or pre-frail, participants who were frail were more receptive to discussing their frailty status with clinicians; 3) Participants wanted know about how to treat or prevent frailty and the risks associated with being frail. Many participants felt that these information can be conveyed without necessarily using the specific term “frail”, which they perceived to have a negative connotation. Conclusions Older adults, especially those who are frail, may be interested to discuss frailty as a medical syndrome. However, negative perceptions are associated with the term “frail” and may be a barrier to clinical application of frailty. Further research is needed to understand acceptable ways for communicating about frailty in clinical practice.

Cite this collection

Schoenborn, Nancy; Van Pilsum Rasmussen, Sarah; Xue, Qian-Li; Walston, Jeremy D.; McAdams-Demarco, Mara A.; Segev, Dorry L.; M. Boyd, Cynthia (2018): Older adults’ perceptions and informational needs regarding frailty. figshare.