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Exploring the efficiency of the Tilburg Frailty Indicator: a review

Authors Gobbens RJJ, Schols JMGA, van Assen MALM

Received 20 July 2017

Accepted for publication 29 August 2017

Published 19 October 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 1739—1752

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S130686

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker


Robbert JJ Gobbens,1–3 Jos MGA Schols,4 Marcel ALM van Assen5,6

1Faculty of Health, Sports and Social Work, Inholland University of Applied Sciences, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; 2Zonnehuisgroep Amstelland, Amstelveen, the Netherlands; 3Department of General Practice, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium; 4Department of Health Services Research and Department of Family Medicine, CAPHRI-Care and Public Health Research Institute, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands; 5Department of Methodology and Statistics, Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Tilburg University, Tilburg, the Netherlands; 6Department of Sociology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Abstract: Due to rapidly aging human populations, frailty has become an essential concept, as it identifies older people who have higher risk of adverse outcomes, such as disability, institutionalization, lower quality of life, and premature death. The Tilburg Frailty Indicator (TFI) is a user-friendly questionnaire based on a multidimensional approach to frailty, assessing physical, psychologic, and social aspects of human functioning. This review aims to explore the efficiency of the TFI in assessing frailty as a means to carry out research into the antecedents and consequences of frailty, and its use both in daily practice and for future intervention studies. Using a multidimensional approach to frailty, in contexts where health care professionals or researchers may have no time to interview or examine the client, we recommend employing the TFI because there is robust evidence of its reliability and validity and it is easy and quick to administer. More studies are needed to establish whether the TFI is suitable for intervention studies not only in the community, but also for specific groups such as patients in the hospital or admitted to an emergency department. We conclude that it is important to not only determine the deficits that frail older people may have, but also to assess their balancing strengths and resources. In order to be able to meet the individual needs of frail older persons, traditional and often fragmented elderly care should be developed toward a more proactive elderly care, in which frail older persons and their informal network are in charge.

Keywords: frailty, Tilburg Frailty Indicator, measurement instruments, psychometric properties, elderly care

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