The journal of nutrition, health & aging

, Volume 19, Issue 9, pp 941–946 | Cite as

A review of frailty in developing countries




As the population ages, the prevalence and clinical importance of frailty are increasing. There have been few published studies about frailty in developing world. This study aims to review the evidence from developing countries on the prevalence of frailty, definition of frailty and factors associated with frailty.


A literature search was conducted via MEDLINE and EMBASE. Keywords included “frail”, “frailty”, “prevalence”, “criteria”, “definition”, “risk factors”, “outcomes”, “developing country”, “developing world”, and names of low and middle income countries according to the classification of the World Bank.


A total of 14 articles were reviewed from Brazil (n=6), China (n=3), Mexico (n=2), and one each from Russia, India, and Peru. There were 9 articles from community-based studies and 5 articles from hospital-based studies. Fried’s phenotype for frailty was used to define frailty in the majority of studies. The prevalence of frailty in community-dwelling older people was 17%–31% in Brazil, 15% in Mexico, 5%–31% in China, and 21%–44% in Russia. The prevalence of frailty was 49% in institutionalized older patients in Brazil and 32% in hospitalized older patients in India. The prevalence of frailty in outpatient clinics was 55%–71% in Brazil and 28% in Peru. Frailty was associated with increased mortality and comorbidities, decreased physical and cognitive function, and poor perceptions of health.


The limited studies available suggest that frailty occurs frequently in older people in the developing world and it appears to be associated with adverse outcomes. This has implications for policy and health care provision for these ageing populations.

Key words

Frailty prevalence outcome developing countries low and middle income countries 


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Copyright information

© Serdi and Springer-Verlag France 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sydney School of Public HealthUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Departments of Clinical Pharmacology and Aged Care, Royal North Shore Hospital and Kolling Institute of Medical Research, Sydney Medical SchoolUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Room 121A Edward Ford Building, School of Public HealthThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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