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      Association of self-rated health with multimorbidity, chronic disease and psychosocial factors in a large middle-aged and older cohort from general practice: a cross-sectional study

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          The prevalence of coexisting chronic conditions (multimorbidity) is rising. Disease labels, however, give little information about impact on subjective health and personal illness experience. We aim to examine the strength of association of single and multimorbid physical chronic diseases with self-rated health in a middle-aged and older population in England, and to determine whether any association is mediated by depression and other psychosocial factors.


          25 268 individuals aged 39 to 79 years recruited from general practice registers in the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC-Norfolk) study, completed a survey including self-rated health, psychosocial function and presence of common physical chronic conditions (cancer, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, asthma/bronchitis and arthritis). Logistic regression models determined odds of “moderate/poor” compared to “good/excellent” health by condition and number of conditions adjusting for psychosocial measures.


          One-third (8252) reported one, around 7.5% (1899) two, and around 1% (194) three or more conditions. Odds of “moderate/poor” self-rated health worsened with increasing number of conditions (one (OR = 1.3(1.2–1.4)) versus three or more (OR = 3.4(2.3–5.1)), and were highest where there was comorbidity with stroke (OR = 8.7(4.6–16.7)) or heart attack (OR = 8.5(5.3–13.6)). Psychosocial measures did not explain the association between chronic diseases and multimorbidity with self-rated health.The relationship of multimorbidity with self-rated health was particularly strong in men compared to women (three or more conditions: men (OR = 5.2(3.0–8.9)), women OR = 2.1(1.1–3.9)).


          Self-rated health provides a simple, integrative patient-centred assessment for evaluation of illness in the context of multiple chronic disease diagnoses. Those registering in general practice in particular men with three or more diseases or those with cardiovascular comorbidities and with poorer self-rated health may warrant further assessment and intervention to improve their physical and subjective health.

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          Most cited references 57

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          A new method of classifying prognostic comorbidity in longitudinal studies: Development and validation

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            Epidemiology of multimorbidity and implications for health care, research, and medical education: a cross-sectional study.

            Long-term disorders are the main challenge facing health-care systems worldwide, but health systems are largely configured for individual diseases rather than multimorbidity. We examined the distribution of multimorbidity, and of comorbidity of physical and mental health disorders, in relation to age and socioeconomic deprivation. In a cross-sectional study we extracted data on 40 morbidities from a database of 1,751,841 people registered with 314 medical practices in Scotland as of March, 2007. We analysed the data according to the number of morbidities, disorder type (physical or mental), sex, age, and socioeconomic status. We defined multimorbidity as the presence of two or more disorders. 42·2% (95% CI 42·1-42·3) of all patients had one or more morbidities, and 23·2% (23·08-23·21) were multimorbid. Although the prevalence of multimorbidity increased substantially with age and was present in most people aged 65 years and older, the absolute number of people with multimorbidity was higher in those younger than 65 years (210,500 vs 194,996). Onset of multimorbidity occurred 10-15 years earlier in people living in the most deprived areas compared with the most affluent, with socioeconomic deprivation particularly associated with multimorbidity that included mental health disorders (prevalence of both physical and mental health disorder 11·0%, 95% CI 10·9-11·2% in most deprived area vs 5·9%, 5·8%-6·0% in least deprived). The presence of a mental health disorder increased as the number of physical morbidities increased (adjusted odds ratio 6·74, 95% CI 6·59-6·90 for five or more disorders vs 1·95, 1·93-1·98 for one disorder), and was much greater in more deprived than in less deprived people (2·28, 2·21-2·32 vs 1·08, 1·05-1·11). Our findings challenge the single-disease framework by which most health care, medical research, and medical education is configured. A complementary strategy is needed, supporting generalist clinicians to provide personalised, comprehensive continuity of care, especially in socioeconomically deprived areas. Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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              Depression, chronic diseases, and decrements in health: results from the World Health Surveys.

              Depression is an important public-health problem, and one of the leading causes of disease burden worldwide. Depression is often comorbid with other chronic diseases and can worsen their associated health outcomes. Few studies have explored the effect of depression, alone or as a comorbidity, on overall health status. The WHO World Health Survey (WHS) studied adults aged 18 years and older to obtain data for health, health-related outcomes, and their determinants. Prevalence of depression in respondents based on ICD-10 criteria was estimated. Prevalence values for four chronic physical diseases--angina, arthritis, asthma, and diabetes--were also estimated using algorithms derived via a Diagnostic Item Probability Study. Mean health scores were constructed using factor analysis and compared across different disease states and demographic variables. The relation of these disease states to mean health scores was determined through regression modelling. Observations were available for 245 404 participants from 60 countries in all regions of the world. Overall, 1-year prevalence for ICD-10 depressive episode alone was 3.2% (95% CI 3.0-3.5); for angina 4.5% (4.3-4.8); for arthritis 4.1% (3.8-4.3); for asthma 3.3% (2.9-3.6); and for diabetes 2.0% (1.8-2.2). An average of between 9.3% and 23.0% of participants with one or more chronic physical disease had comorbid depression. This result was significantly higher than the likelihood of having depression in the absence of a chronic physical disease (p<0.0001). After adjustment for socioeconomic factors and health conditions, depression had the largest effect on worsening mean health scores compared with the other chronic conditions. Consistently across countries and different demographic characteristics, respondents with depression comorbid with one or more chronic diseases had the worst health scores of all the disease states. Depression produces the greatest decrement in health compared with the chronic diseases angina, arthritis, asthma, and diabetes. The comorbid state of depression incrementally worsens health compared with depression alone, with any of the chronic diseases alone, and with any combination of chronic diseases without depression. These results indicate the urgency of addressing depression as a public-health priority to reduce disease burden and disability, and to improve the overall health of populations.

                Author and article information

                [ ]Primary Care Unit, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Strangeways Laboratory, 2 Worts Causeway, Cambridge, CB1 8RN UK
                [ ]Health Services & Policy Research, University of Exeter Collaboration for Primary Care (APEx) and NIHR PenCLAHRC, University of Exeter Medical School, Smeall Building, St Luke’s Campus, Exeter, Devon EX1 2LU UK
                [ ]Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge, CB2 0SR UK
                [ ]Clinical Gerontology Unit, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Level 2, F+G Block, Box 251, Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 2QQ UK
                [ ]Primary Care Research Unit, University of Cambridge, Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge, CB2 0SR UK
                BMC Fam Pract
                BMC Fam Pract
                BMC Family Practice
                BioMed Central (London )
                25 November 2014
                25 November 2014
                : 15
                : 1
                © Mavaddat et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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