Frailty phenotype and healthcare costs and utilization in older men
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OBJECTIVES: To determine the association of the frailty phenotype with subsequent healthcare costs and utilization. DESIGN: Prospective cohort study (Osteoporotic Fracture in Men [MrOS]). SETTING: Six US sites. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 1,514 community-dwelling men (mean age = 79.3 years) participating in the MrOS Year 7 (Y7) examination linked with their Medicare claims data. MEASUREMENTS: At Y7, the frailty phenotype was operationalized using five components and categorized as robust, pre-frail, or frail. Multimorbidity and a frailty indicator (approximating the deficit accumulation index) were derived from claims data. Functional limitations were assessed by asking about difficulty performing instrumental activities of daily living. Total direct healthcare costs and utilization were ascertained during 36 months following Y7. RESULTS: Mean of total annualized costs (2018 dollars) was $5,707 (standard deviation [SD] = 8,800) among robust, $8,964 (SD = 18,156) among pre-frail, and $20,027 (SD = 27,419) among frail men. Compared with robust men, frail men (cost ratio [CR] = 2.35; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.88-2.93) and pre-frail men (CR = 1.28; 95% CI = 1.11-1.48) incurred greater total costs after adjustment for demographics, multimorbidity, and cognitive function. Associations of phenotypic pre-frailty and frailty with higher total costs were somewhat attenuated but persisted after further consideration of functional limitations and a claims-based frailty indicator. Each individual frailty component was also associated with higher total costs. Frail vs robust men had higher odds of hospitalization (odds ratio [OR] = 2.62; 95% CI = 1.75-3.91) and skilled nursing facility (SNF) stay (OR = 3.36; 95% CI = 1.83-6.20). A smaller but significant effect of the pre-frail category on SNF stay was present. CONCLUSION: Phenotypic pre-frailty and frailty were associated with higher subsequent total healthcare costs in older community-dwelling men after accounting for a claims-based frailty indicator, functional limitations, multimorbidity, cognitive impairment, and demographics. Assessment of the frailty phenotype or individual components such as slowness may improve identification of older community-dwelling adults at risk for costly extensive care.
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