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Measuring frailty and its association with key outcomes in the ambulance setting: a cross sectional observational study

Lookup NU author(s): Dr David Sinclair, Professor Barbara Hanratty, Dr Daniel StowORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022, The Author(s).Background: Little is known about frailty in the ambulance setting, or its association with outcomes relevant to ambulance services. We sought to measure frailty in people aged ≥ 50 attended by an ambulance, and describe the relationship between frailty, odds of conveyance to hospital, and duration at scene. Methods: An observational study between 01/01/2021-30/06/2021 in North East Ambulance Service, England. Participants were aged ≥ 50 attended by an ambulance, excluding patients requiring immediate treatment for a life-threatening condition or with Glasgow Coma Scale < 15. Paramedics (n = 112) measured patient frailty using the Clinical Frailty Scale (CFS). Additional information was extracted from ambulance care records. Weighted regression models examined associations between frailty, hospital conveyance, and duration at scene. Results: Three thousand and fifty-six callouts were observed (mean patient age: 78.1 years, 57.2% female). Frailty prevalence (CFS ≥ 5) was 58.7%. Median duration at scene was 47.0 min (interquartile range 34.0–67.0 min). Ambulances spent a median of 8.2 (95%CI:5.4–11.0) minutes longer with frail patients than non-frail patients. Frail patients were less likely to be conveyed to hospital than non-frail patients (OR:0.75, 95%CI:0.60–0.94). Conclusion: Frailty is common among people aged ≥ 50 attended by an ambulance and an important influence on workload. Ambulance services need a good understanding of frailty to meet patient needs. As populations age, community support should be prioritised to deliver appropriate frailty care and reduce demands on ambulance services.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Charlton K, Sinclair DR, Hanratty B, Burrow E, Stow D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMC Geriatrics

Year: 2022

Volume: 22

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 05/12/2022

Acceptance date: 16/11/2022

Date deposited: 20/12/2022

ISSN (electronic): 1471-2318

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd


DOI: 10.1186/s12877-022-03633-z

PubMed id: 36471316


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