Background: Applying disease-specific guidelines to people with multimorbidity may result in complex regimens that impose treatment burden.
Objectives: To describe and validate a measure of healthcare task difficulty (HCTD) in a sample of older adults with multimorbidity.
Research design: Cross-sectional and longitudinal secondary data analysis.
Subjects: Multimorbid adults aged 65 years or older from primary care clinics.
Measures: We generated a scale (0-16) of self-reported difficulty with 8 HCTD and conducted factor analysis to assess its dimensionality and internal consistency. To assess predictive ability, cross-sectional associations of HCTD and number of chronic diseases, and conditions that add to health status complexity (falls, visual, and hearing impairment), patient activation, patient-reported quality of chronic illness care (Patient Assessment of Chronic Illness Care), mental and physical health (SF-36) were tested using statistical tests for trend (n=904). Longitudinal analyses of the effects of change in HCTD on changes in the outcomes were conducted among a subset (n=370) with ≥1 follow-up at 6 and/or 18 months. All models were adjusted for age, education, sex, race, and time.
Results: Greater HCTD was associated with worse mental and physical health [Cuzick test for trend (P<0.05)], and patient-reported quality of chronic illness care (P<0.05). In longitudinal analysis, increasing patient activation was associated with declining HCTD over time (P<0.01). Increasing HCTD over time was associated with declining mental (P<0.001) and physical health (P=0.001) and patient-reported quality of chronic illness care (P<0.05).
Conclusions: The findings of this study establish the construct validity of the HCTD scale.