Prevalence estimates of multimorbidity: a comparative study of two sourcesReport as inadecuate

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BMC Health Services Research

, 10:111

First Online: 06 May 2010Received: 27 November 2009Accepted: 06 May 2010DOI: 10.1186-1472-6963-10-111

Cite this article as: Fortin, M., Hudon, C., Haggerty, J. et al. BMC Health Serv Res 2010 10: 111. doi:10.1186-1472-6963-10-111


BackgroundPublished prevalence studies on multimorbidity present diverse data collection methods, sources of data, targeted age groups, diagnoses considered and study populations, making the comparability of prevalence estimates questionable. The objective of this study was to compare prevalence estimates of multimorbidity derived from two sources and to examine the impact of the number of diagnoses considered in the measurement of multimorbidity.

MethodsPrevalence of multimorbidity was estimated in adults over 25 years of age from two separate Canadian studies: a 2005 survey of 26,000 respondents randomly selected from the general population and a 2003 study of 980 patients from 21 family practices. We estimated the prevalence of multimorbidity based on the co-occurrence of ≥ 2 and ≥ 3 diseases of the seven diseases listed in the general population survey. For primary care patients, we also estimated multimorbidity prevalence using an open list of chronic diseases.

ResultsPrevalence estimates were considerably higher for each age group in the primary care sample than in the general population. For primary care patients, the number of chronic diseases considered for estimates resulted in large differences, especially in younger age groups. The prevalence of multimorbidity increased with age in both study populations.

ConclusionsThe prevalence of multimorbidity was substantially lower when estimated in a general population than in a family practice-based sample and was higher when the number of conditions considered increased.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1472-6963-10-111 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Martin Fortin - Catherine Hudon - Jeannie Haggerty - Marjan van den Akker - José Almirall


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