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Frailty Awareness in the Adult Population: Knowledge of Frailty Risk Factors and Symptoms.

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posted on 20.07.2021, 13:52 authored by Michael Kelleher

Introduction: Frailty is one of the most problematic conditions affecting the ageing population (Clegg et al, 2013). The World Health Organisation (2018) has projected the number Of individuals aged 60 and older is expected to nearly double from 12% to 22% by 2050 resulting in an increased incidence of frailty. The current prevalence of frailty In Ireland is 12.7% and growing (Turner et al, 2018). There is no known research Globally that has investigated the adult population’s knowledge of frailty.

Aims and objectives: The aim of this study was determine adults’ knowledge of frailty, including risk Factors, symptoms and treatment for frailty, in Ireland. The objectives of this study Are to investigate if a level of frailty knowledge differs between sub-groups based on Age, gender, marital status, occupation and location. Lastly, to identify factors that Contribute to a delay in seeking medical attention for frailty.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study using a study specific online anonymous Questionnaire. This study was approved by the Royal College of Surgeons Research Ethic Committee. Respondents completed the online questionnaire to determine the Knowledge of frailty risk factors and symptoms, response to frailty and frailty Recovery and prevention in adults living in Ireland. Eligibility criteria included adults Living in Ireland with good English mastery. Inferential, descriptive, categorical and Numerical statistics were calculated in this study.

Results: 530 respondents mean age (±SD) 39.6 (±12.4) years were included in the study Knowledge of frailty was good among respondents as almost all respondents (97.2%) were able to identify 1 frailty concept. 93% (n=495) were able to identify 2 Or more frailty risk factors and 87% of respondents (n=460) were able to identify 2 Or more frailty symptoms. Over half of respondents (60.6%, n=322) were unable to Identify that females were at higher risk of becoming frail. 87% of respondents (n=489) were able to identify 2 or more treatments which could stop or reverse Frailty. One-third (33.5%, n=164) of these respondents included 2 or more incorrect Treatments to stop or reverse frailty. Almost all respondents (93.4%, n=495) were Able to correctly identify 2 or more health services that might reduce the effects of Frailty. Almost half (n=216) of respondents that identified 2 or more health services To reduce the effects of frailty included 2 incorrect health services. Nearly half of Respondents reported that a personal frailty diagnosis would not be very serious (14.3, n=76) and quite serious (25.3%, n=134). Half of respondents who had Experience of the Irish health service relating to frailty reported the service to be Extremely inadequate (9.9%, n=13) and inadequate (40.1%, n=53). Statistically Significant differences for frailty risk factor knowledge were found with being Female (p < 0.000), a healthcare professional (p < 0.003) and respondents residential Living in a city or town (p < 0.024). Statistically significant differences for frailty Symptoms knowledge were found with being a female (p < 0.002) and a healthcare Professional (p < 0.000).

Conclusion and Implications of findings: Respondents’ knowledge of frailty, knowledge of risk factors and symptoms, Treatments and frailty services were good. However, there were some inaccuracies in Respondents’ frailty knowledge relating to frailty risk factors, symptoms, treatments, Healthcare services and impairments. Better knowledge of frailty risk factors and Symptoms was observed among females, healthcare professionals and respondents Living in a city or town. Respondents report a lack of confidence in the Irish Healthcare service relating to frailty management and poor responsiveness to the Seriousness of a personal frailty diagnosis. Targeted public health campaigns are Required in order to improve the general populations’ frailty knowledge, detection, Self-management and response to frailty. This could potentially improve frailty Outcomes and therefore, reduce the burden on our healthcare service.


First Supervisor

Louise Keating


A thesis submitted in part fulfilment of the degree of MSc in Neurology & Gerontology, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. 2020

Published Citation

Kelleher M,. Frailty Awareness in the Adult Population: Knowledge of Frailty Risk Factors and Symptoms. [MSc Thesis] Dublin: Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; 2020

Degree Name

MSc Neurology and Gerontology

Date of award



  • MSc Neurology and Gerontology

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