New statement on frailty in adults with long-term lung conditions

A summary of a new statement published in the European Respiratory Journal

Frailty is a complex set of symptoms that can make those affected more likely to develop health problems. However, there is a lack of awareness about how frailty affects people with long-term lung conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and interstitial lung disease. Most of our understanding of frailty is related to elderly people.

A new statement from the European Respiratory Society (ERS) summarises what we currently understand about frailty in adults with long-term lung conditions. It also highlights the need for more research in this area and the priority areas for research.

What does the statement provide?

The statement highlights how frailty can impact people’s lives, including its effect on mental health and quality of life.

The statement includes the results of a survey of people affected by long-term lung conditions and frailty (including family members and carers) as well as a statement from a patient representative. The survey highlighted several key issues that need addressing:

  • Lack of support, education and research about frailty.
  • Need for information about self-management, therapy options, and better communication and cooperation at all levels of healthcare.
  • Lack of understanding about frailty and age, which means younger people with frailty often do not get the care they need, especially psychological support.
  • Financial impact of frailty.
What does it recommend for the future?

The statement highlights many opportunities for improvement.

  • Improving awareness of frailty. This includes understanding that it can cause disability, poor quality of life and mental health issues.
  • Developing better ways of measuring and monitoring frailty to detect inequalities in access to healthcare.
  • Looking at the criteria for frailty to ensure that people who are frail are not excluded from clinical trials.
  • Doing more research to make recommendations about which of the available medications are best for frailty symptoms.
Read the original research paper:

European Respiratory Society statement on frailty in adults with chronic lung disease