Skip to navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer

Approved Research

Development of a Frailty Index using Standard Laboratory Tests and its Utility in Predicting Adverse Health Outcomes

Principal Investigator: Dr Faisal Hakeem
Approved Research ID: 82923
Approval date: May 24th 2022

Lay summary

Frailty is a recognised feature of ageing and is linked with poor health including an increased risk of falls, fractures, and admission to nursing homes. Several researchers have developed methods that can be used to measure frailty. These methods are typically based on the number of symptoms or medical conditions that a person may have experienced; the more symptoms or conditions that a person has the greater will be their degree of frailty.

In our project, we will use a different approach to measuring frailty. We plan to look at the results of a range of common blood tests and, within an individual person, how many of these common tests are abnormal. We think that those with more abnormal tests will be frailer. We think that looking at abnormal blood tests rather than symptoms or underlying medical conditions will help identify people who are becoming frail at an earlier stage than existing methods. This is because changes start to happen in the blood before health conditions and diseases develop. Also, the new method may complement existing methods and a combination of the two methods may improve our ability to predict future episodes of poor health.

To develop the new frailty measure we will use information that has already been collected in UK Biobank.  As part of the study, participants completed a detailed questionnaire about their health and had a physical examination performed. A blood test was also taken and from this, a range of over 30 biochemical tests were assessed. Using data from the study and in particular the results of the blood tests we will develop a new frailty measure (or 'frailty tool') and look at how it compares with current frailty measures. We will compare it with existing frailty measures and whether it is able to predict people who have subsequent poor health. We will look also at how good the new frailty tool is both on its own and in combination with existing frailty measures in identifying people who subsequently develop adverse outcomes