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Background: Frailty is characterized by an accumulation of deficits that lead to vulnerability to adverse health outcomes. The Frailty Index (FI) quantifies frailty by measuring deficits that increase susceptibility to stressors. This study focused on a population of Mexican Americans living in vulnerable communities in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas. We used a Frailty Index developed based on common health-related data--the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and a Health-related Quality of Life survey (Duke Health Profile). Quality of life, resilience, and frailty are interrelated and influenced by chronic illness, mental illness, poverty, cognitive impairment, and community support.

Methods: We used Logistic regression analysis, factor component analysis, receiver operating characteristic curves, and odds ratios to identify potential associations between clinical variables and candidate predictor variables and seven physiological health variables, and two survey instruments. We analyzed data obtained from participants (894) that live in two Colonias located on the Texas-Mexico border. We calculated the FI with seven physiological variables, PHQ-9 score, and the 11 domain-specific Duke Profile scores, for a total of 19 health deficits. We then dichotomized FI (>0.25) and determined ROC curves through model selection to determine best predictors of frailty.

Results: Females (n = 622) had a higher starting frailty, and males (n = 272) had a significantly greater change rate with age. Women score higher in anxiety, depression, anxiety/depression, and pain. The frailty index and quality of life markers are strongly inversely related; poorer quality of life leads to greater frailty independent physiological health variables, the PHQ 9, sex, and age.

Conclusion: The study highlights the importance of addressing modifiable mental health and social stressors to reduce frailty. Furthermore, it suggests that factors supporting resilience and well-being, such as physical and mental health, social support, and perceived health, play a crucial role in frailty development. The findings have implications for interventions targeting vulnerable populations and emphasize the need for further research on the relationship between health-related quality of life and frailty.


© 2023 Manusov, Diego and Williams-Blangero.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Frontiers in Medicine



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Mentor/PI Department

Office of Human Genetics



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