Determinants of frailty in primary care patients with COPD: the Greek UNLOCK study.



Frailty is a state of increased vulnerability that has a significant risk of unfavorable outcomes such as increased dependency and/or death, but little is known about frailty in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


We aimed to determine the prevalence of frailty in COPD patients and to identify the associated risk factors. Two hundred fifty-seven COPD patients enrolled from primary care in Greece between 2015 and 2016. Physicians used structured interviews to collect cross-sectional data including demographics, medical history, symptoms and COPD Assessment Tool (CAT) or modified Medical Research Council Dyspnea scale (mMRC) score. Patients were classified into severity groups according to GOLD 2017 guidelines. Participants completed the The Frail Non-Disabled (FiND) questionnaire, exploring the frailty and disability domains. In the present analyses, frail patients with and without mobility disability were pooled and were compared to non-frail patients. Factors associated with frailty were analyzed using univariate and multivariate logistic regression.


Mean (SD) age was 65 (12.3) with 79% males. The majority of patients suffered with frailty (82%) of which 76.8% had mobility disability. 84.2% were married/with partner and 55.4% retired. 55.6% were current smokers. Uncontrolled disease (≥10 CAT score) was reported in 91.1% and 37.2% of patients had ≥2 exacerbations in the past year. Dyspnea (38%) and cough (53.4%) were the main symptoms. Main comorbidities were hypertension (72.9%), hyperlipidaemia (24.6%) and diabetes (11%). Risk of frailty was significantly increased with age (OR; 95%CI: 1.05; 1.02-1.08), hypertension (2.25; 1.14-4.45), uncontrolled disease (≥10 CAT score 4.65; 1.86-11.63, ≥2 mMRC score 5.75 (2.79-11.85) or ≥ 2 exacerbations 1.73; 1.07-2.78), smoking cessation (ex compared to current smokers: 2.37; 1.10-5.28) and GOLD status (B&D compared to A&C groups: CAT-based 4.65; 1.86-11.63; mMRC-based: 5.75; 2.79-11.85). In multivariate regression smoking cessation and GOLD status remained significant. Gender, body mass index, occupational or marital status, symptoms and other comorbidities were not significant.


Frailty with mobility disability is common in COPD patients and severity of disease increases the risk. It is possible that frail patients are more likely to quit smoking perhaps because of their disability and uncontolled disease. Routine assessment of frailty in addition to COPD control may allow early interventions for preventing or delaying progression of frailty and improvement in COPD disease.

Resource information

Respiratory conditions
  • COPD
Respiratory topics
  • Disease management
Type of resource
Peer-reviewed article
Ierodiakonou D, Kampouraki M, Poulonirakis I, Papadokostakis P, Lintovoi E, Karanassos D, Maltezis K, Chorti M, Petrovitsos E, Dimopoulou S, Hamind S, Gialamas I, Athanasiou P, Bempi V, Lambraki I, Tsiligianni I