Frailty strongly predicts adverse outcomes in a variety of clinical settings; however, frailty-related trauma outcomes have not been systematically reviewed and quantitatively synthesized. Our objective was to systematically review and meta-analyze the association between frailty and outcomes (mortality-primary; complications, health resource use, and patient experience-secondary) after multisystem trauma.
After registration (CRD42018104116), we applied a peer-reviewed search strategy to MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Comprehensive Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) from inception to May 22, 2019, to identify studies that described: (1) multisystem trauma; (2) participants ≥18 years of age; (3) explicit frailty instrument application; and (4) relevant outcomes. Excluded studies included those that: (1) lacked a comparator group; (2) reported isolated injuries; and (3) reported mixed trauma and nontrauma populations. Criteria were applied independently, in duplicate to title/abstract and full-text articles. Risk of bias was assessed using the Risk of Bias in Nonrandomized Studies-of Interventions (ROBINS-I) tool. Effect measures (adjusted for prespecified confounders) were pooled using random-effects models; otherwise, narrative synthesis was used.
Sixteen studies were included that represented 5198 participants; 9.9% of people with frailty died compared to 4.2% of people without frailty. Frailty was associated with increased mortality (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.53; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.37–1.71), complications (adjusted OR, 2.32; 95% CI, 1.72–3.15), and adverse discharge (adjusted OR, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.29–2.45). Patient function, experience, and resource use outcomes were rarely reported.
The presence of frailty is significantly associated with mortality, complications, and adverse discharge disposition after multisystem trauma. This provides important prognostic information to inform discussions with patients and families and highlights the need for trauma system optimization to meet the complex needs of older patients.