Comorbidity patterns in patients with chronic diseases in general practice

PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e32141. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032141. Epub 2012 Feb 16.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Comorbidity*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disease Management
  • Female
  • General Practice / methods*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Spain / epidemiology