Association between baseline frailty and driving status over time: a secondary analysis of The National Health and Aging Trends Study

Bond, Elizabeth G.; Durbin, Laura L.; Cisewski, Jodi A.; Qian, Min; Guralnik, Jack M.; Kasper, Judith D.; Mielenz, Thelma J.

Continued automobile driving is important for the wellbeing and independence of older adults. Frailty has been associated with a variety of negative health outcomes, but studies are lacking on the potential association between frailty and driving status. The present study uses data from The National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) to assess if the presence of frailty is associated with being a current non-driver.

NHATS is a nationally representative cohort study of Medicare beneficiaries (aged ≥65) that have been followed since 2011. We examined frailty status at baseline (Fried’s frailty phenotype) and driving status over 4 years (from 2011 to 2014) excluding never drivers at baseline. Multivariable Poisson regression was used to obtain incidence rate ratios, adjusting for covariates and clustering. To account for the repeated measures in the data collection, generalized estimating equations (GEE) were employed.

A significant association between baseline frailty and driving status was observed at all four time points. At T4, frail participants at baseline had an incidence rate for becoming a current non-driver 1.80 times (or an 80% increase) that of non-frail participants at baseline (adjusted 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.56–2.07).

Frailty was associated with an increased rate of being a current non-driver. Based on this association, we posit that screening for and intervening on frailty may help certain older adults who are at risk for becoming a current non-driver to remain on the road longer.


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Injury Epidemiology

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November 16, 2017


Keywords: Driving, Epidemiology, Frailty, Older adults, Measurement