Frailty and health services use among Quebec seniors with non-hip fractures: a population-based study using adminsitrative databases
BACKGROUND: The number of frail elderly will increase as the world population ageing accelerates. Since frail elders are at risk of falls, hospitalizations and disabilities, they will require more health care and services. To assess frailty prevalence using health administrative databases, to examine the association between frailty and the use of medical services and to measure the excess use of health services following a non-hip fracture across frailty levels among community-dwelling seniors. METHODS: A population-based cohort study was built from the Quebec Integrated Chronic Disease Surveillance System, including men and women ≥65 years old, non-institutionalized in the pre-fracture year. Frailty was measured using the Elders Risk Assessment (ERA) index. Multivariate Generalized Estimating Equation models were used to examine the relationship between frailty levels and health services while adjusting for covariates. The excess numbers of visits to Emergency Departments (ED) and to Primary Care Practitioners (PCP) as well as hospitalizations were also estimated. RESULTS: The cohort included 178,304 fractures. There were 13.6 and 5.2% frail and robust seniors, respectively. In the post-fracture year, the risks of ED visits, PCP visits and hospitalizations, were significantly higher in frail vs. non-frail seniors: adjusted relative risk (RR) = 2.69 [95% CI: 2.50-2.90] for ED visits, RR = 1.28 [95% CI: 1.23-1.32] for PCP visits and RR = 2.34 [95% CI: 2.14-2.55] for hospitalizations. CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that it is possible to characterize seniors' frailty status at a population level using health administrative databases. Furthermore, this study shows that non-institutionalized frail seniors require more health services after an incident fracture. Screening for frailty in seniors should be part of clinical management in order to identify those at a higher risk of needing health services.