Oct. 5, 2021 (MedicalXpress) -- A new cross-national study comparing multimorbidity disease cluster patterns, prevalence and health risk factors across Ireland, England, The United States and Canada, reveal important findings that could have health implications for public health policy.
The study led by TILDA: the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging offers fresh insight to help health authorities better understand the complex nature of multimorbidity (a co-occurrence of two or more chronic diseases), and to identify and improve appropriate prevention and management strategies for treating these diseases across countries. All four countries ranked globally in the top 14 of the 2018 UN Human Development Index, allowing for suitable comparison across the range of public healthcare delivery systems of North America and Europe.
The study investigates lifetime prevalence of 10 common chronic, cardiovascular and mental health conditions among 62,111 older adults aged 52–85 years of age across the four countries, and uncovers how differences in demographics, socio-economic status and health behaviors affect the combination of diseases within and across four countries. The findings are a good news story for Ireland, who had the lowest prevalence for six out of 10 diseases compared to the other countries.
The study found that multimorbidity among those aged 52–85 years old was highest in the United States at 60.7 percent and lowest in Ireland at 38.6 percent. Five predominant multimorbidity patterns for each country were identified in the study, with researchers discovering that socio-economic disparity existed across all four countries, where those who had higher levels of education and higher income in general had better health. Elevated Body Mass Index (BMI) was also identified as a risk factor for high disease burden and multimorbidity across all countries.