Prevalence of and factors associated with frailty and disability in older adults from China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa

R. B. Biritwum, N. Minicuci, A. E. Yawson, O. Theou, G. P. Mensah, N. Naidoo, F. Wu, Y. Guo, Y. Zheng, Y. Jiang, T. Maximova, S. Kalula, P. Arokiasamy, A. Salinas-Rodríguez, B. Manrique-Espinoza, J. J. Snodgrass, K. N. Sterner, G. Eick, M. A. Liebert, J. SchrockS. Afshar, E. Thiele, S. Vollmer, K. Harttgen, H. Strulik, J. E. Byles, K. Rockwood, A. Mitnitski, S. Chatterji, P. Kowal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


Background The severe burden imposed by frailty and disability in old age is a major challenge for healthcare systems in low- and middle-income countries alike. The current study aimed to provide estimates of the prevalence of frailty and disability in older adult populations and to examine their relationship with socioeconomic factors in six countries. Methods Focusing on adults aged 50+ years, a frailty index was constructed as the proportion of deficits in 40 variables, and disability was assessed using the World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS 2.0), as part of the Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE) Wave 1 in China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa. Results This study included a total of 34,123 respondents. China had the lowest percentages of older adults with frailty (13.1%) and with disability (69.6%), whereas India had the highest percentages (55.5% and 93.3%, respectively). Both frailty and disability increased with age for all countries, and were more frequent in women, although the sex gap varied across countries. Lower levels of both frailty and disability were observed at higher levels of education and wealth. Both education and income were protective factors for frailty and disability in China, India and Russia, whereas only income was protective in Mexico, and only education in South Africa. Conclusions Age-related frailty and disability are increasing concerns for older adult populations in low- and middle-income countries. The results indicate that lower levels of frailty and disability can be achieved for older people, and the study highlights the need for targeted preventive approaches and support programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-18
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Disability
  • Frail older adults
  • Frailty index
  • Low- and middle-income countries
  • SAGE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Prevalence of and factors associated with frailty and disability in older adults from China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this