Social frailty in older adults: a scoping review

Steven Bunt, N. Steverink, Jaap Olthof, Cees van der Schans, Hans Hobbelen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Social frailty is a rather unexplored concept. In
this paper, the concept of social frailty among older people
is explored utilizing a scoping review. In the first stage, 42
studies related to social frailty of older people were compiled
from scientific databases and analyzed. In the second
stage, the findings of this literature were structured using
the social needs concept of Social Production Function
theory. As a result, it was concluded that social frailty can
be defined as a continuum of being at risk of losing, or
having lost, resources that are important for fulfilling one
or more basic social needs during the life span. Moreover,
the results of this scoping review indicate that not only the
(threat of) absence of social resources to fulfill basic social
needs should be a component of the concept of social
frailty, but also the (threat of) absence of social behaviors
and social activities, as well as (threat of) the absence of
self-management abilities. This conception of social frailty
provides opportunities for future research, and guidelines
for practice and policy.
Translated title of the contributionSociale kwetsbaarheid: een scoping review
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-334
JournalEuropean Journal of Ageing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


  • social frailty
  • elderly people


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