Measuring frailty in Dutch community-dwelling older people: reference values of the Tilburg Frailty Indicator (TFI)

Marcel A L M van Assen, Esther Pallast, Fatima El Fakiri, Robbert J J Gobbens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives The objectives of this study were to provide reference values of the Tilburg Frailty Indicator (TFI) for community-dwelling older people by age, sex, marital status, ethnicity, education, income, and residence, and examine the effects of these seven socio-demographic variables on frailty. Methods 47,768 individuals aged 65 years and older living in the Netherlands completed a health questionnaire (58.5% response rate), including the TFI. The TFI is a self-report questionnaire for measuring frailty, developed from an integral approach of frailty, including physical, psychological, and social domains. Results Reference values were provided for men and women separately, as a function of age. We found associations of all socio-demographic variables with frailty, also after controlling for the effects of age. These associations held for both sexes and for big cities as wells as more rural areas. For instance, the effect of age was large for total and physical frailty, women were more frail than men, and some very large average frailty differences between the ethnic groups were found, with autochthon people having the lowest frailty score. Conclusions In conclusion, this study offers reference values of the TFI by socio-demographic characteristics and explains frailty using these characteristics. This information will support researchers, policymakers and health care professionals in interpreting scores of the TFI, which may guide their efforts to reduce frailty and its adverse outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-129
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Community-dwelling older people
  • Ethnicity
  • Frailty
  • Reference values
  • Socio-demographic variables
  • Tilburg Frailty Indicator (TFI)


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