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      Which chronic diseases and disease combinations are specific to multimorbidity in the elderly? Results of a claims data based cross-sectional study in Germany

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          Abstract

          Background

          Growing interest in multimorbidity is observable in industrialized countries. For Germany, the increasing attention still goes still hand in hand with a small number of studies on multimorbidity. The authors report the first results of a cross-sectional study on a large sample of policy holders (n = 123,224) of a statutory health insurance company operating nationwide. This is the first comprehensive study addressing multimorbidity on the basis of German claims data. The main research question was to find out which chronic diseases and disease combinations are specific to multimorbidity in the elderly.

          Methods

          The study is based on the claims data of all insured policy holders aged 65 and older (n = 123,224). Adjustment for age and gender was performed for the German population in 2004. A person was defined as multimorbid if she/he had at least 3 diagnoses out of a list of 46 chronic conditions in three or more quarters within the one-year observation period. Prevalences and risk-ratios were calculated for the multimorbid and non-multimorbid samples in order to identify diagnoses more specific to multimorbidity and to detect excess prevalences of multimorbidity patterns.

          Results

          62% of the sample was multimorbid. Women in general and patients receiving statutory nursing care due to disability are overrepresented in the multimorbid sample. Out of the possible 15,180 combinations of three chronic conditions, 15,024 (99%) were found in the database. Regardless of this wide variety of combinations, the most prevalent individual chronic conditions do also dominate the combinations: Triads of the six most prevalent individual chronic conditions (hypertension, lipid metabolism disorders, chronic low back pain, diabetes mellitus, osteoarthritis and chronic ischemic heart disease) span the disease spectrum of 42% of the multimorbid sample. Gender differences were minor. Observed-to-expected ratios were highest when purine/pyrimidine metabolism disorders/gout and osteoarthritis were part of the multimorbidity patterns.

          Conclusions

          The above list of dominating chronic conditions and their combinations could present a pragmatic start for the development of needed guidelines related to multimorbidity.

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          Most cited references10

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          Causes and consequences of comorbidity: a review.

          A literature search was carried out to identify and summarize the existing information on causes and consequences of comorbidity of chronic somatic diseases. A selection of 82 articles met our inclusion criteria. Very little work has been done on the causes of comorbidity. On the other hand, much work has been done on consequences of comorbidity, although comorbidity is seldom the main subject of study. We found comorbidity in general to be associated with mortality, quality of life, and health care. The consequences of specific disease combinations, however, depended on many factors. We recommend more etiological studies on shared risk factors, especially for those comorbidities that occur at a higher rate than expected. New insights in this field can lead to better prevention strategies. Health care workers need to take comorbid diseases into account in monitoring and treating patients. Future studies on consequences of comorbidity should investigate specific disease combinations.
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            Multimorbidity Patterns in the Elderly: A New Approach of Disease Clustering Identifies Complex Interrelations between Chronic Conditions

            Objective Multimorbidity is a common problem in the elderly that is significantly associated with higher mortality, increased disability and functional decline. Information about interactions of chronic diseases can help to facilitate diagnosis, amend prevention and enhance the patients' quality of life. The aim of this study was to increase the knowledge of specific processes of multimorbidity in an unselected elderly population by identifying patterns of statistically significantly associated comorbidity. Methods Multimorbidity patterns were identified by exploratory tetrachoric factor analysis based on claims data of 63,104 males and 86,176 females in the age group 65+. Analyses were based on 46 diagnosis groups incorporating all ICD-10 diagnoses of chronic diseases with a prevalence ≥ 1%. Both genders were analyzed separately. Persons were assigned to multimorbidity patterns if they had at least three diagnosis groups with a factor loading of 0.25 on the corresponding pattern. Results Three multimorbidity patterns were found: 1) cardiovascular/metabolic disorders [prevalence female: 30%; male: 39%], 2) anxiety/depression/somatoform disorders and pain [34%; 22%], and 3) neuropsychiatric disorders [6%; 0.8%]. The sampling adequacy was meritorious (Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure: 0.85 and 0.84, respectively) and the factors explained a large part of the variance (cumulative percent: 78% and 75%, respectively). The patterns were largely age-dependent and overlapped in a sizeable part of the population. Altogether 50% of female and 48% of male persons were assigned to at least one of the three multimorbidity patterns. Conclusion This study shows that statistically significant co-occurrence of chronic diseases can be subsumed in three prevalent multimorbidity patterns if accounting for the fact that different multimorbidity patterns share some diagnosis groups, influence each other and overlap in a large part of the population. In recognizing the full complexity of multimorbidity we might improve our ability to predict needs and achieve possible benefits for elderly patients who suffer from multimorbidity.
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              Patterns of chronic multimorbidity in the elderly population.

              To describe patterns of comorbidity and multimorbidity in elderly people. A community-based survey. Data were gathered from the Kungsholmen Project, a urban, community-based prospective cohort in Sweden. Adults aged 77 and older living in the community and in institutions of the geographically defined Kungsholmen area of Stockholm (N=1,099). Diagnoses based on physicians' examinations and supported by hospital records, drug use, and blood samples. Patterns of comorbidity and multimorbidity were evaluated using four analytical approaches: prevalence figures, conditional count, logistic regression models, and cluster analysis. Visual impairments and heart failure were the diseases with the highest comorbidity (mean 2.9 and 2.6 co-occurring conditions, respectively), whereas dementia had the lowest (mean 1.4 comorbidities). Heart failure occurred rarely without any comorbidity (0.4%). The observed prevalence of comorbid pairs of conditions exceeded the expected prevalence for several circulatory diseases and for dementia and depression. Logistic regression analyses detected similar comorbid pairs. The cluster analysis revealed five clusters. Two clusters included vascular conditions (circulatory and cardiopulmonary clusters), and another included mental diseases along with musculoskeletal disorders. The last two clusters included only one major disease each (diabetes mellitus and malignancy) together with their most common consequences (visual impairment and anemia, respectively). In persons with multimorbidity, there exists co-occurrence of diseases beyond chance, which clinicians need to take into account in their daily practice. Some pathological mechanisms behind the identified clusters are well known; others need further clarification to identify possible preventative strategies.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central
                1471-2458
                2011
                14 February 2011
                : 11
                : 101
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Primary Medical Care, Center of Psychosocial Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistrasse 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany
                [2 ]Division of Health Economics, Health Policy and Outcomes Research, Centre for Social Policy Research, University of Bremen, Parkallee 39, 28209 Bremen, Germany
                [3 ]Department of Medical Biometry and Epidemiology, Center for Experimental Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistrasse 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany
                Article
                1471-2458-11-101
                10.1186/1471-2458-11-101
                3050745
                21320345
                3594d591-b16c-4e2f-9272-8b4c03eaebce
                Copyright ©2011 van den Bussche et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                History
                : 27 August 2010
                : 14 February 2011
                Categories
                Research Article

                Public health
                Public health

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