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Respir Med. 2011 Feb;105(2):236-42. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2010.07.019. Epub 2010 Aug 15.

Chronic respiratory disease and multimorbidity: prevalence and impact in a general practice setting.

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Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.



Multimorbidity is defined as two or more co-existing chronic conditions in an individual and is common in general practice. It is associated with poorer outcomes for patients. This study aimed to establish the prevalence of multimorbidity in patients with chronic respiratory disease in general practice and to describe its impact on health service use.


Cross-sectional study based in general practice in Dublin. Drug and disease code searches were performed to identify adult patients with a diagnosis of chronic respiratory disease. Medical records were reviewed for chronic respiratory diagnosis, other chronic conditions, demographic characteristics, General Practitioner (GP) and practice nurse utilisation rates, and numbers of medications.


In a general practice population of 16,946 patients 3.9% had chronic respiratory disease and 60% of these had one or more co-existing chronic condition(s). GP and practice nurse utilisation rates, and number of medications were significantly higher among those with multimorbidity compared with those with respiratory disease alone. Multivariate analysis showed that increasing age and low socio-economic status were significantly associated with multimorbidity.


The majority of patients with chronic respiratory disease have multimorbidity. Clinical guidelines based on single disease entities and outcomes are not as easy to implement and may not be as effective in this group.

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