Korean J Intern Med.  2020 Jul;35(4):1004-1013. 10.3904/kjim.2019.097.

What are the illnesses associated with frailty in community-dwelling older adults: the Korean Frailty and Aging Cohort Study

  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Kyung Hee University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Elderly Frailty Research Center, Department of Family Medicine, Kyung Hee University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea


Frailty is mainly due to an age-related decrease in the physiological reserves needed to maintain biological homeostasis, but it can also occur as a result of chronic diseases. The purpose of this study was to identify illnesses associated with frailty in Korean community-dwelling older adults.
This was a cross-sectional study that included 2,936 older adults aged between 70 and 84 years who had completed both interviews and physical function assessments for the Korean Frailty and Aging Cohort Study. Current illnesses diagnosed by physicians were included in the analysis. The definition of frailty was derived from the Fried frailty phenotype.
The prevalence of hypertension, diabetes mellitus (DM), arthritis, osteoporosis, urinary incontinence, and lung disease (including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and chronic bronchitis) was higher in the frail group (p < 0.05). After adjusting for age, sex, physical activity, alcohol, smoking, education, and presence of a spouse, the odds ratios for DM and urinary incontinence in frailty were 1.51 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.10 to 2.01; p = 0.01) and 1.88 (95% CI, 1.11 to 3.18; p = 0.02).
In Korean community-dwelling older adults, DM and urinary incontinence were associated with frailty after adjusting for various factors. In the future, the list of comorbid diseases that are appropriate for Korean population- specific frailty assessment should be inventoried.


Frailty; Illness; Korea; Aged; Incontinence
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