Does cumulative psychosocial stress explain frailty disparities in community-dwelling older adults?

TitleDoes cumulative psychosocial stress explain frailty disparities in community-dwelling older adults?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsShakya, S, Silva, SG, McConnell, ES, McLaughlin, SJ, Cary, MP
JournalArch Gerontol Geriatr
ISSN Number1872-6976

OBJECTIVE: Frailty is a leading predictor of adverse outcomes in older adults. Although disparities in frailty are well-documented, it is unclear whether psychosocial stressors explain these disparities. This study aimed to examine the potential mediating role of psychosocial stress.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study included 7,679 community-dwelling older adults (≥ 65) from Health and Retirement Study in the US (2006 and 2008). We used six dichotomized psychosocial stressors: a) loneliness, b) discrimination, c) financial strain, d) low subjective status, e) poor neighborhood cohesion, and f) traumatic life events to compute cumulative psychosocial stress. The Fried frailty phenotype defined frailty based on three features: slowness, poor strength, weight loss, fatigue, and low physical activity. Multivariable regressions were used to examine the structural determinants (gender, education, race, and ethnicity) frailty relationship and test whether cumulative psychosocial stress has a mediating role.

RESULTS: The frailty prevalence was 22%. Females, Hispanics, Blacks, and those with less education had higher odds of frailty (p<.01). Race and ethnic minorities and non-college graduates experienced greater cumulative psychosocial stress relative to their White and college graduate counterparts (p<.05), respectively. Greater cumulative psychosocial stress was associated with increased odds of frailty (p < .001); however, it did not mediate the structural determinants and frailty relationship.

CONCLUSION: Contrary to expectations, cumulative psychosocial stress did not mediate the relationship between structural determinants and frailty. Rather, high cumulative psychosocial stress was independently associated with frailty. Further research should examine other psychosocial mediators to inform interventions to prevent/delay frailty.

Citation Key13293
PubMed ID37167754