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In JMIR medical informatics ; h5-index 23.0

BACKGROUND : Frailty is one of the most critical age-related conditions in older adults. It is often recognized as a syndrome of physiological decline in late life, characterized by a marked vulnerability to adverse health outcomes. A clear operational definition of frailty, however, has not been agreed so far. There is a wide range of studies on the detection of frailty and their association with mortality. Several of these studies have focused on the possible risk factors associated with frailty in the elderly population while predicting who will be at increased risk of frailty is still overlooked in clinical settings.

OBJECTIVE : The objective of our study was to develop predictive models for frailty conditions in older people using different machine learning methods based on a database of clinical characteristics and socioeconomic factors.

METHODS : An administrative health database containing 1,095,612 elderly people aged 65 or older with 58 input variables and 6 output variables was used. We first identify and define six problems/outputs as surrogates of frailty. We then resolve the imbalanced nature of the data through resampling process and a comparative study between the different machine learning (ML) algorithms - Artificial neural network(ANN), Genetic programming (GP), Support vector machines (SVM), Random Forest (RF), Logistic regression (LR) and Decision tree (DT) - was carried out. The performance of each model was evaluated using a separate unseen dataset.

RESULTS : Predicting mortality outcome has shown higher performance with ANN (TPR 0.81, TNR 0.76, accuracy 0.78, F1-score 0.79) and SVM (TPR 0.77, TNR 0.80, accuracy 0.79, F1-score 0.78) than predicting the other outcomes. On average, over the six problems, the DT classifier has shown the lowest accuracy, while other models (GP, LR, RF, ANN, and SVM) performed better. All models have shown lower accuracy in predicting an event of an emergency admission with red code than predicting fracture and disability. In predicting urgent hospitalization, only SVM achieved better performance (TPR 0.75, TNR 0.77, accuracy 0.73, F1-score 0.76) with the 10-fold cross validation compared with other models in all evaluation metrics.

CONCLUSIONS : We developed machine learning models for predicting frailty conditions (mortality, urgent hospitalization, disability, fracture, and emergency admission). The results show that the prediction performance of machine learning models significantly varies from problem to problem in terms of different evaluation metrics. Through further improvement, the model that performs better can be used as a base for developing decision-support tools to improve early identification and prediction of frail older adults.

Tarekegn Adane, Ricceri Fulvio, Costa Giuseppe, Ferracin Elisa, Giacobini Mario