Over 14 million people in England have multiple long-term health problems and over a third of those have a mental health condition, according to a new analysis of data from over 400,000 patients in England. More than half of GP consultations are now with patients with multimorbidity, say researchers in the new study, published today in the British Journal of General Practice. Dr Duncan Edwards, Amelia Harshfield, Professor Simon Griffin and James Brimicombe provide an up-to-date and comprehensive description of multimorbidity — where patients have two or more currently active, long term conditions. These conditions include those heavily influenced by lifestyle factors such as coronary heart disease, diabetes or cancer.
As multimorbidity rates climb, demands on health services are increasing and the number of GP consultations, prescriptions, and stays in hospital are all rising steeply. Younger patients may have complex physical and mental health problems, while clinicians may find it difficult to manage the number of comorbidities that older patients are experiencing.
The information in this study may make it possible to target areas of the health service where training or resources are needed to handle this increasing burden.
It may be that we need to think about a drastic restructuring of services: no longer will people be seen in ‘single disease’ services but in new multimorbidity clinics designed for the future – Dr Duncan Edwards, NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow, Primary Care Unit
This study looked at the experiences of 404,000 patients within the CPRD database. Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) is a nationally owned resource of millions of anonymised patient GP records, linked to data about hospital admissions, cancer outcomes, heart attack outcomes, mental health and death certificates; over the last 30 years it has underpinned 2,000 research articles.
Media: Lucy Lloyd
Image credit: Dr Jon Ferdinand for PCU