The impact of frailty on outcomes in dialysis

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Purpose of review

Frailty is highly prevalent in the dialysis population and is associated with mortality. Recent studies have suggested that other dialysis outcomes are compromised in frail individuals. While we do not yet have a consensus as to the best measure of frailty, identification of these poor outcomes and their magnitude of association with frailty will help improve prognostication, allow for earlier interventions, and improve provider-to-patient communication.

Recent findings

The most widely used assessment of frailty is Fried's physical performance criteria. However, regardless of assessment method, frailty remains highly associated with mortality. More recently, frailty has been associated with falls, fractures, cognitive impairment, vascular access failure, and poor quality of life. Recent large cohort studies provide strong evidence that frailty assessment can provide important prognostic information for providers and patients both before and after initiation of dialysis. Trials aimed at improving frailty are limited and show the promise of augmenting quality of life, although more studies are needed to firmly establish mortality benefits.


We underscore the importance of frailty as a prognostic indicator and identify other recently established consequences of frailty. Widespread adoption of frailty assessment remains limited and researchers continue to find ways of simplifying the data collection process. Timely and regular assessment of frailty may allow for interventions that can mitigate the onset of poor outcomes and identify actionable targets for dialysis providers.

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