Components of physical frailty cluster into subtypes, but it remains unknown how these might be associated with age‐related functional declines and multimorbidities. This study aims to investigated associations of physical frailty subtypes with functional declines and multimorbidity in a 10 year longitudinal cohort survey.
Complementary longitudinal cohort study used group‐based multitrajectory modelling to verify whether frailty subtypes discovered in Taiwan are presented in another aging cohort, then investigated associations of these subtypes with cognitive decline and multimorbidity. Participants aged ≥50 years were recruited from the third to sixth waves (May 2002 to July 2010) of the National Institute for Longevity Sciences‐Longitudinal Study of Aging, in Japan. People with incomplete data, pre‐frail/frail status before their index wave, and those with incomplete data or who died during follow‐up, were excluded. Group‐based trajectory analysis denoted five established physical frailty criteria as time‐varying binary variables in each wave during follow‐up. Incident frailty was classified as mobility subtype (weakness/slowness), non‐mobility subtype (weight loss/exhaustion), or low physical activity subtype. General linear modelling investigated associations of these frailty subtypes with activities of daily living, digit symbol substitution test (DSST) and Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) at 2 year follow‐up.
We identified four longitudinal trajectories of physical frailty, which corroborated the distinct subtypes we discovered previously. Among 940 eligible participants, 38.0% were robust, 18.4% had mobility subtype frailty, 20.7% non‐mobility subtype, and 20.1% low physical activity subtype. People with mobility subtype frailty were older than those with other frailty subtypes or robust status and had higher prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, and heart failure. In the multivariable‐adjusted general linear models, mobility‐subtype frailty was associated with a significantly lower DSST score (point estimate −2.28, P = 0.03) and higher CCI (point estimate 0.82, P < 0.01) than the other groups.