Comorbidity and its impact on disability

Milbank Q. 1989;67(3-4):450-84.


Older people often suffer from comorbidity, or several chronic conditions simultaneously. Disability rises rapidly as the number of chronic conditions grows, although very ill people who acquire another condition experience attenuated increases. High prevalence conditions such as arthritis tend to have a low or occasionally moderate impact for community residents, while low prevalence ones such as osteoporosis have a high impact; paired conditions sometimes give extra propulsion to disability, as when cerebrovascular disease and hip fracture co-occur. Further research is needed to pin-point combinations of conditions posing great risks and to identify demographic segments in which comorbidity has elevated effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity*
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • United States / epidemiology