Development, validation and performance of laboratory frailty indices: A scoping review

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Introduction: Frailty is a syndrome characterised by decline in functional ability and increasing vulnerability to disease and associated with adverse outcomes. Several established methods exist for assessing frailty. This scoping review aims to characterise the development and validation of frailty indices based on laboratory test results (FI-Lab) and to assess their utility. Methods: Studies were included in the review if they included data concerning the development and/or testing an FI-Lab using the deficit accumulation method. Studies were identified using PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase (Elsevier), OpenGrey and Google Scholar from 2010 to 2021. Two reviewers independently screened all abstracts, and those that met the inclusion criteria were reviewed in detail. Data extracted included details about the study characteristics, number, type and coding of laboratory variables included, validation, and outcomes. A narrative synthesis of the available evidence was adopted. Results: The search yielded 915 articles, of which 29 studies were included. In general, 89% of studies were conducted after 2016 and 51% in a hospital-based setting. The number of variables included in FI-Labs ranged from 13 to 77, and 51% included some non-laboratory variables in their indices, with pulse and blood pressure being the most frequent. The validity of FI-Lab was demonstrated through change with age, correlation with established frailty indices and association with adverse health outcomes. The most frequent outcome studied was mortality (79% of the studies), with FI-Lab associated with increased mortality in all but one. Other outcomes studied included self-reported health, institutionalisation, and activities of daily living. The effect of combining the FI-Lab with a non-laboratory-based FI was assessed in 7 studies with a marginal increase in predictive ability. Conclusion: Frailty indices constructed based on the assessment of laboratory variables, appear to be a valid measure of frailty and robust to the choice of variables included.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104995
JournalArchives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Early online date11 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023


  • Frailty
  • Frailty index
  • Laboratory tests
  • Outcomes
  • Validity


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