Chronic conditions more than age drive health system use in Canadian seniors

Healthc Q. 2011;14(3):19-22. doi: 10.12927/hcq.2011.22485.


Which has more impact on health status and the use of healthcare services among seniors: age or the number of chronic conditions? To answer this question, we used responses from the 2008 Canadian Survey of Experiences with Primary Health Care to assess the effect of these two factors on seniors' self-perceived health status, prescription medication use and healthcare service use. We discovered that seniors with at least three chronic conditions were more likely to report poor health, take more prescription medications and use more healthcare services than seniors with two or fewer chronic conditions. The number of chronic conditions is better than age as a predictor of self-reported health status, prescription medication use and healthcare service use by seniors. Seniors with at least three conditions represented 24% of all seniors, but they accounted for 40% of the use of healthcare services. Health policies and programs focused on the prevention and improved management of co-morbidities among seniors could have a significant and positive impact on seniors' health (including self-perceived health status) and their use of healthcare services.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult