BMC Public Health
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Background: The prevalence of multimorbidity varies widely due to the lack of consensus in defining multimorbidity. This study aimed to measure the prevalence of multimorbidity in a primary care setting using two definitions of multimorbidity with two different lists of chronic conditions. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of 787,446 patients, aged 0 to 99 years, who consulted a family physician between July 2015 to June 2016. Multimorbidity was defined as ‘two or more’ (MM2+) or ‘three or more’ (MM3+) chronic conditions using the Fortin list and Chronic Disease Management Program (CDMP) list of chronic conditions. Crude and standardised prevalence rates were reported, and the corresponding age, sex or ethnic-stratified standardised prevalence rates were adjusted to the local population census. Results: The number of patients with multimorbidity increased with age. Age-sex-ethnicity standardised prevalence rates of multimorbidity using MM2+ and MM3+ for Fortin list (25.9, 17.2%) were higher than those for CDMP list (22.0%; 12.4%). Sex-stratified, age-ethnicity standardised prevalence rates for MM2+ and MM3+ were consistently higher in males compared to females for both lists. Chinese and Indians have the highest standardised prevalence rates among the four ethnicities using MM2+ and MM3+ respectively. Conclusions: MM3+ was better at identifying a smaller number of patients with multimorbidity requiring higher needs compared to MM2+. Using the Fortin list seemed more appropriate than the CDMP list because the chronic conditions in Fortin’s list were more commonly seen in primary care. A consistent definition of multimorbidity will help researchers and clinicians to understand the epidemiology of multimorbidity better.
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Citation of this paper:
The prevalence of multimorbidity in primary care: a comparison of two definitions of multimorbidity with two different lists of chronic conditions in Singapore