Studies on the prevalence of multimorbidity, defined as having two or more chronic conditions, have predominantly focused on the elderly. We estimated the prevalence and specific patterns of multimorbidity across different adult age groups. Furthermore, we examined the associations of multimorbidity with socio-demographic factors.
Using data from the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) 2010 Patient Experience Survey, the prevalence of self reported multimorbidity was assessed by telephone interview among a sample of 5010 adults (18 years and over) from the general population. Logistic regression analyses were performed to determine the association between a range of socio-demographic factors and multimorbidity.
The overall age- and sex-standardized prevalence of multimorbidity was 19.0% in the surveyed general population. Of those with multimorbidity, 70.2% were aged less than 65 years. The most common pairing of chronic conditions was chronic pain and arthritis. Age, sex, income and family structure were independently associated with multimorbidity.
Multimorbidity is a common occurrence in the general adult population, and is not limited to the elderly. Future prevention programs and practice guidelines should take into account the common patterns of multimorbidity.