Cognitive frailty in relation to adverse health outcomes independent of multimorbidity: results from the China health and retirement longitudinal study

Chen Chen, Ju Young Park, Chenkai Wu, Qian Li Xue, George Agogo, Ling Han, Emiel O. Hoogendijk, Zuyun Liu, Zunyou Wu

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Our objectives were to evaluate: 1) the associations of cognitive frailty with various health outcomes including disability, hospitalization, and death; 2) whether the associations differed by multimorbidity. We included data of 5113 Chinese older adults (aged 60+ years) who had baseline cognition and physical frailty assessments (2011 wave) and follow-up for 4 years. About 16.0% (n=820) had cognitive impairment; 6.7% (n=342) had physical frailty; and 1.6% (n=82) met criteria for cognitive frailty. Both cognitive impairment (odds ratios (ORs) range: 1.41 to 2.11) and physical frailty (ORs range: 1.51 to 2.43) were independently associated with basic activities of daily living (BADL), instrumental ADL (IADL), mobility disability, hospitalization, and death among participants without that corresponding outcome at baseline, even after accounting for covariates. Relative to participants who had normal cognition and were nonfrail, those with cognitive frailty had the highest risk for IADL disability (OR=3.40, 95% CI, 1.23-9.40) and death (OR=3.89, 95% CI, 2.25-6.47). We did not find significant interaction effects between cognitive frailty and multimorbidity (Pinteractions>0.05). Overall, cognitive frailty was associated with disability and death, independent of multimorbidity. This highlights the importance of assessing cognitive frailty in the community to promote primary and secondary preventions for healthy aging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23129-23145
Number of pages17
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2020


  • cognitive frailty
  • death
  • disability
  • multimorbidity
  • older adults

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