Family Medicine Publications

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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.


This research is supported by the Singapore Ministry of Health’s National Medical Research Council under the Centre Grant Programme (Ref No: NMRC/CG/C019/2017).

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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