Correlations, agreement and utility of frailty instruments in prevalent haemodialysis patients: baseline cohort data from the FITNESS study

Benjamin M Anderson, Muhammad Qasim, Gonzalo Correa, Felicity Evison, Suzy Gallier, Charles J Ferro, Thomas A Jackson, Adnan Sharif

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Background: Frailty is associated with poor outcomes for haemodialysis patients, but its prevalence is uncertain due to heterogeneous definitions. The aim of this study was to compare and contrast prevalence and features of commonly used frailty instruments in a British haemodialysis cohort.

Methods: The FITNESS (Frailty Intervention Trial iN End-Stage patientS on haemodialysis) study recruited adults aged ≥18 years after informed consent, with ≥3 months haemodialysis exposure and no hospital admission within 4 weeks unless for dialysis access. Study participants were clinically phenotyped with frailty instruments including the Frailty Index (FI), Frailty Phenotype (FP), Edmonton Frailty Scale (EFS) and Clinical Frailty Scale (CFS), alongside comprehensive baseline data collection of biochemical, clinical and social characteristics.

Results: Between 12 January 2018 and 18 April 2019, 485 haemodialysis patients were recruited. Baseline demographics were median age 63 years, male sex 58.6% and non-White ethnicity 42.1%. Prevalence of frailty was high; 41.9% of participants were frail by FP, 63.3% by FI, 50.2% by EFS and 53.8% by CFS. Female gender was associated with increased frailty, with no independent association observed with age or ethnicity. While correlation between frailty instruments was strong, intraclass correlation coefficient for frailty agreement was 0.628 (95% confidence interval 0.585-0.669) and only weak agreement between instrument pairs.

Conclusion: Frailty is highly prevalent among haemodialysis patients regardless of criteria used. However, our data suggest caution when interpreting heterogenous definitions of frailty for haemodialysis patients as they are not interchangeable. Consensus agreement on the optimal frailty definition for haemodialysis patients must balance ease of use with predictive ability for adverse outcomes before determining clinical application.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbersfab137
Pages (from-to)145-152
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Kidney Journal
Issue number1
Early online date16 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of ERA-EDTA.


  • ESRD
  • age
  • epidemiology
  • haemodialysis
  • physical activity
  • quality of life


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