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Ann Fam Med. 2005 May-Jun;3(3):223-8.

Prevalence of multimorbidity among adults seen in family practice.

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Department of Family Medicine, Sherbrooke University, Québec, Canada. <>



There are few valid data that describe the extent of multimorbidity in primary care patients. The purpose of this study was to estimate its prevalence in family practice patients by counting the number of chronic medical conditions and using a measure that considers the severity of these conditions, the Cumulative Illness Rating Scale (CIRS).


The study was carried out in the Saguenay region (Québec, Canada) in 2003. The participation of adult patients from 21 family physicians was solicited during consecutive consultation periods. A research nurse reviewed medical records and extracted the data regarding chronic illnesses. For each chronic condition, a severity rating was determined in accordance with the CIRS scoring guidelines.


The sample consisted of 320 men and 660 women. Overall, 9 of 10 patients had more than 1 chronic condition. The prevalence of having 2 or more medical conditions in the 18- to 44-year, 45- to 64-year, and 65-year and older age-groups was, respectively, 68%, 95%, and 99% among women and 72%, 89%, and 97% among men. The mean number of conditions and mean CIRS score also increased significantly with age.


Whether measured by simply counting the number of conditions or using the CIRS, the prevalence of multimorbidity is quite high and increases significantly with age in both men and women. Patients with multimorbidity seen in family practice represent the rule rather than the exception.

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