Although frailty is common among community-dwelling older adults, its prevalence in Europe and how this varies between countries is unclear.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of literature on frailty prevalence in 22 European countries involved in the Joint Action ADVANTAGE was conducted.
Sixty-two papers, representing 68 unique datasets were included. Meta-analysis showed an overall estimated frailty prevalence of 18% (95% confidence interval, CI, 15-21%). The prevalence in community (n = 53) vs non-community based studies (n = 15) was 12% (95% CI 10-15%) and 45% (95% CI 27-63%), respectively. Pooled prevalence in community studies adopting a physical phenotype was 12% (95% CI 10-14%, n = 45) vs 16% (95% CI 7-29%, n = 8) for all other definitions. Sub-analysis of a subgroup of studies assessed as high-quality (n = 47) gave a pooled estimate of 17% (95% CI 13-21%).
The considerable and significant heterogeneity found warrants the development of common methodological approaches to provide accurate and comparable frailty prevalence estimates at population-level.