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Frailty in Chile: Development of a Frailty Index Score Using the Chilean National Health Survey 2016–2017

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The Frailty Index (FI) is used to quantify and summarize vulnerability status in people. In Chile, no development and assessment of a FI have been explored.


To develop and evaluate a FI using representative data from Chilean adults aged 40 years and older stratified by sex.


Cross-sectional study.


National representative data from the Chilean National Health Survey 2016–2017 (CNHS 2016–2017).


3,036 participants older than 40 years with complete data for all variables.


A 49-item FI was developed and evaluated. This FI included deficits from comorbidities, functional limitations, mental health status, physical activity, anthropometry, medications, and falls. A score between 0 and 1 was calculated for each person. Descriptive statistics and linear regression models were employed to evaluate the FI’s performance in the population. Comparative analyses were carried out to evaluate the FI score by age (<60 and ≥ 60 years).


The mean FI score was 0.15 (SD:0.09), with a 99% upper limit of 0.46. Scores were greater in women than men (0.17 [SD:0.09]) vs. 0.12 [0.08]); in people older than 80 years (0.22 [0.11]), and in people with ≤8 years of education (0.18 [0.10]) compared with those with >12 years (0.12 [0.08]). The average age-related increase in the FI was 2.3%. When a cut-off point ≥ 0.25 was applied, the prevalence of frail individuals was 11.8% (95% CI: 10.0 to 13.8) in the general population. The prevalence was higher in women 15.9% [95% CI: 13.3 to 18.9] than men 7.4% [95% CI: 5.3 to 10.1]. In a comparative analysis by age, higher FI mean scores and prevalence of frail were observed in people ≥ 60 than younger than 60.


The mean FI score and frailty prevalence were higher in women than men, in people with fewer years of formal education, and incremented markedly with age. This FI can be used for early detection of frailty status focusing on women and middle-aged people as a strategy to delay or prevent frailty-related consequences.

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The authors thank all participants for their cooperation and the Chilean Health Ministry and Department of Public Health, The Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile for commissioning, designing, and conducting the second National Health Survey 20016–2017.


Financial support: The Chilean National Health Survey (CNHS) 2016–2017 was funded by the Chilean Ministry of Health and led by the Department of Public Health, The Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. The present study was funded by the Chilean Health Ministry as part of the Third health surveillance in Chile. The funders had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation or any decision related to this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Fanny Petermann-Rocha.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest: None.

Ethical standards: The CNHS 2016–2017 was funded by the Chilean Ministry of Health and approved by the Ethics Research Committee of the School of Medicine at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (No. 16–019).

Additional information

Authorship: F.D generated the research question. F.D, F.P.-R. and C.C.-M. planned the analysis. F.D. performed the literature search. F.D performed the analysis with support from C.C-M and F.P-R. F.D wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors critically reviewed this and previous drafts. All authors approved the final draft for submission. F.P-R. is the guarantor.

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Diaz-Toro, F., Petermann-Rocha, F., Lynskey, N. et al. Frailty in Chile: Development of a Frailty Index Score Using the Chilean National Health Survey 2016–2017. J Frailty Aging 12, 97–102 (2023).

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