Introduction: Healthcare management is oriented toward single diseases, yet multimorbidity is nevertheless the rule and there is a tendency for certain diseases to occur in clusters. This study sought to identify comorbidity patterns in patients with chronic diseases, by reference to number of comorbidities, age and sex, in a population receiving medical care from 129 general practitioners in Spain, in 2007.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in a health-area setting of the Madrid Autonomous Region (Comunidad Autónoma), covering a population of 198,670 individuals aged over 14 years. Multiple correspondences were analyzed to identify the clustering patterns of the conditions targeted.
Results: Forty-two percent (95% confidence interval [CI]: 41.8-42.2) of the registered population had at least one chronic condition. In all, 24.5% (95% CI: 24.3-24.6) of the population presented with multimorbidity. In the correspondence analysis, 98.3% of the total information was accounted for by three dimensions. The following four, age- and sex-related comorbidity patterns were identified: pattern B, showing a high comorbidity rate; pattern C, showing a low comorbidity rate; and two patterns, A and D, showing intermediate comorbidity rates.
Conclusions: Four comorbidity patterns could be identified which grouped diseases as follows: one showing diseases with a high comorbidity burden; one showing diseases with a low comorbidity burden; and two showing diseases with an intermediate comorbidity burden.