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Protocol for a prospective observational study to develop a frailty index for use in perioperative and critical care

10 Jan 2019


Frailty is of increasing importance to perioperative and critical care medicine, as the proportion of older patients increases globally. Evidence continues to emerge of the considerable impact frailty has on adverse outcomes from both surgery and critical care, which has led to a proliferation of different frailty measurement tools in recent years. Despite this, there remains a lack of easily implemented, comprehensive frailty assessment tools specific to these complex populations. Development of a frailty index using routinely collected hospital data, able to leverage the automated aspects of an electronic medical record, would aid risk stratification and benefit clinicians and patients alike.

Methods and analysis

This is a prospective observational study. 150 intensive care unit (ICU) patients aged ≥50 years and 200 surgical patients aged ≥65 years will be enrolled. The primary objective is to develop a frailty index. Secondary objectives include assessing its ability to predict in-hospital mortality and/or discharge to a new non-home location; the performance of the frailty index in predicting postoperative and ICU complications, as well as health-related quality of life at 6 months; to compare the performance of the frailty index against existing frailty measurement and risk stratification tools; and to assess its modification by patients’ health assets.

Ethics and dissemination

This study has been approved by the Melbourne Health Human Research Ethics Committee(20 January 2017, HREC/16/MH/321). Dissemination will be via international and national anaesthetic and critical care conferences, and publication in the peer-reviewed literature.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open