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OBJECTIVES: To test a model of frailty by examining factors associated with institutionalization of older people in Canada; to assess whether diagnostic data provided information about risk beyond that provided by data on functional capacity and demographic variables.

METHODS: Cross-sectional study of 1258 institutional subjects and 9113 community-dwelling older adults from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging.

RESULTS: Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that female gender, being unmarried, absence of a caregiver, presence of cognitive impairment(including all types of dementia), functional impairment, diabetes mellitus, stroke, and Parkinson's disease were independently associated with being in a long-term care facility.

CONCLUSION: Frailty appears to be a multidimensional construct, and not simply a synonym for dependence in Activities of Daily Living. Studies of health outcomes in older people should include diagnostic data as well as demographic information and data on functional capacity.

(C) Williams & Wilkins 1996. All Rights Reserved.