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Background: Frailty becomes more prevalent and healthcare needs increase with age. Information on the impact of frailty on population level use of health services and associated costs is needed to plan for ageing populations. Aim: To describe primary and secondary care service use and associated costs by electronic Frailty Index (eFI) category. Design and Setting: Retrospective cohort using electronic health records. Participants aged ≥50 registered in primary care practices contributing to the Oxford Royal College of General Practitioners Research and Surveillance Centre, 2006–2017. Methods: Primary and secondary care use (totals and means) were stratified by eFI category and age group. Standardised 2017 costs were used to calculate primary, secondary and overall costs. Generalised linear models explored associations between frailty, sociodemographic characteristics. Adjusted mean costs and cost ratios were produced. Results: Individual mean annual use of primary and secondary care services increased with increasing frailty severity. Overall cohort care costs for were highest in mild frailty in all 12 years, followed by moderate and severe, although the proportion of the population with severe frailty can be expected to increase over time. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, compared to the fit category, individual annual costs doubled in mild frailty, tripled in moderate and quadrupled in severe. Conclusions: Increasing levels of frailty are associated with an additional burden of individual service use. However, individuals with mild and moderate frailty contribute to higher overall costs. Earlier intervention may have the most potential to reduce service use and costs at population level.

Original publication




Journal article


Age and Ageing

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