Early identification of frailty is important for proactive primary care. Currently, however, there is no consensus on which measure to use. Therefore, we examined whether a Frailty Index (FI), based on ICPC-coded primary care data, and the Groningen Frailty Indicator (GFI) questionnaire identify the same older people as frail.
We conducted a cross-sectional, observational study of 1,580 patients aged ≥ 60 years in a Dutch primary care center. Patients received a GFI questionnaire and were surveyed on their baseline characteristics. Frailty-screening software calculated their FI score. The GFI and FI scores were compared as continuous and dichotomised measures.
FI data were available for 1549 patients (98%). 663 patients (42%) returned their GFI questionnaire. Complete GFI and FI scores were available for 638 patients (40.4%), mean age 73.4 years, 52.8% female. There was a positive correlation between the GFI and the FI (Pearson’s correlation coefficient 0.544). Using dichotomised scores, 84.3% of patients with a low FI score also had a low GFI score. In patients with a high FI score, 55.1% also had a high GFI score. A continuous FI score accurately predicted a dichotomised GFI score (AUC 0.78, 95% CI 0.74 to 0.82). Being widowed or divorced was an independent predictor of both a high GFI score in patients with a low FI score, and a high FI score in patients with a low GFI score.
The FI and the GFI moderately overlap in identifying frailty in community-dwelling older patients. To provide optimal proactive primary care, we suggest an initial FI screening in routine healthcare data, followed by a GFI questionnaire for patients with a high FI score or otherwise at high risk as the preferred two-step frailty screening process in primary care.