Scottish study looks at the rise of multimorbidity and the implications for health care

14 May 2012 | Partners in Care

A new study looks at the increase in the number of people with more than one medical disorder and the implications for health care systems.

The increase in chronic disease is one of the main challenges facing health care systems around the world, however relatively little research has been completed around the increasing number of people with two or more chronic diseases. This study looks at the morbidity rates for patients listed at 314 clinics in Scotland and the relationships between age, affluence and morbidity.

The study found that over 42 per cent of the population had one or more of the 40 listed chronic diseases and over 23 per cent were multimorbid.

Morbidity increased with age and poverty as expected. By the age of 50 half of the population had at least one morbidity and by age 65 most were multimorbid. However in absolute terms there were more people aged under 65 with multimorbidity than over 65.

The authors conclude that these results have important implications for the way health care systems are structured.  They argue that the current framework which is structured around individual diseases is no longer appropriate and that a broader, co-ordinated approach is needed to reduce duplication and improve efficiency.

The article can be read in full in The Lancet: Epidemiology of multimorbidity and implications for health care, research, and medical education: a cross-sectional study

Related comment in The Lancet: Multimorbidity: redesigning health care for people who use it

Last updated 14/05/2012