Comparison of self-report-based and physical performance-based frailty definitions among patients receiving maintenance hemodialysis

Kirsten L. Johansen, Lorien Dalrymple, Cynthia Delgado, George Kaysen, John Kornak, Barbara Grimes, Glenn M. Chertow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Results 387 (53%) patients were frail based on self-reported function, of whom 209 (29% of the cohort) met the performance-based definition. Only 23 (3%) met the performance-based definition of frailty only. The self-report definition had 90% sensitivity, 64% specificity, 54% positive predictive value, 93% negative predictive value, and 72.5% overall accuracy. Intracellular water per kilogram of body weight and serum albumin, prealbumin, and creatinine levels were highest among nonfrail individuals, intermediate among those who were frail by self-report, and lowest among those who also were frail by performance. Age, percentage of body fat, and C-reactive protein level followed an opposite pattern. The modified self-report definition had better accuracy (84%; 95% CI, 79%-89%) and superior specificity (88%) and positive predictive value (67%).

Limitations Our study did not address prediction of outcomes.

Conclusions Patients who meet the self-report-based but not the performance-based definition of frailty may represent an intermediate phenotype. A modified self-report definition can improve the accuracy of a questionnaire-based method of defining frailty.

Study Design In a cross-sectional study, we compared prevalence and patient characteristics based on a frailty definition that uses self-reported function to the classic performance-based definition and developed a modified self-report-based definition.

Background A well-accepted definition of frailty includes measurements of physical performance, which may limit its clinical utility.

Setting & Participants Prevalent adult patients receiving hemodialysis in 14 centers around San Francisco and Atlanta in 2009-2011.

Index Tests Self-report-based frailty definition in which a score lower than 75 on the Physical Function scale of the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) was substituted for gait speed and grip strength in the classic definition; modified self-report definition with optimized Physical Function score cutoff points derived in a development (one-half) cohort and validated in the other half.

Reference Test Performance-based frailty defined as 3 of the following: weight loss, weakness, exhaustion, low physical activity, and slow gait speed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-607
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Kidney Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


  • end-stage renal disease (ESRD)
  • Frailty
  • hemodialysis
  • physical activity
  • physical function
  • physical performance
  • self-reported function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology
  • Medicine(all)


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