J Korean Geriatr Soc.  2014 Sep;18(3):143-152. 10.4235/jkgs.2014.18.3.143.

Prevalence and Social Correlates of Frailty Among Rural Community-Dwelling Older Adults

  • 1Department of Nursing, Mokpo National University, Mokpo, Korea. chosh@mokpo.ac.kr


Frailty, a multidimensional geriatric syndrome, confers a high risk of falls, disability, hospitalization, and mortality. The prevalence and correlates of frailty in older people dwelling in rural communities are unknown.
We examined frailty, as defined by the Korean Geriatric Society, and social correlates among rural community-dwelling older adults (n=419) aged 65 or older.
The prevalence of frailty and prefrailty was 11.5% and 38.7%, respectively. Among eight frailty criteria, the prevalence of multiple medications was highest (57.3%), while self-rated health as "unhealthy" was the second highest (45.1%). In contrast, the prevalence of exhaustion was the lowest (10%) among the eight frailty criteria. The prevalence of frailty was 12.6% among women and 6.3% among men (p=0.02). Uneducated older adults showed a significantly higher prevalence of frailty (13.1%) than any other educational groups (6.3-9.2%). In addition, older adults with high social support showed lower frailty than the other groups. After adjustment for other factors; however, a lack of social support (odds ratio for frailty, 1.98; 95% confidence interval, 1.14-3.44) was associated with increased odds of frailty.
Frailty is not uncommon among rural community-dwelling old men and women in Korea. In the rural community, females with a lack of social support might be at a higher risk of frailty, as those were two of the strongest risk factors discovered in this study. This study calls for more interest and concern for the frail older adults with a lack of social support in rural communities.


Frail elderly; Rural community; Social support
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