Chronic conditions and multimorbidity in a primary care population: a study in the Swiss Sentinel Surveillance Network (Sentinella)

Int J Public Health. 2018 Dec;63(9):1017-1026. doi: 10.1007/s00038-018-1114-6. Epub 2018 May 21.


Objectives: To provide estimates of the prevalence of chronic conditions in Swiss primary care.

Methods: In total, 175 general practitioners (GP) or pediatricians (PED) reporting to the Swiss Sentinel Surveillance Network collected morbidity data.

Results: In 26,853 patient contacts, mean (± SD) age was 55.8 ± 21.6 or 6.1 ± 5.7 years (in GPs vs. PEDs, respectively) and 47% were males. In GP patients, median Thurgau Morbidity Index was 2 (IQR 1-3). The median numbers of chronic conditions and permanently used prescribed drugs were 2 (0-5) and 2 (1-4), respectively; in PEDs medians were 0. Out of all patients, 16.7 and 7.0% of the PED patients were hospitalized during the previous year; patients cared by family/proxies or community nurses were hospitalized significantly more often than patients living in homes (50.1 vs. 35.4%, OR 1.41, p < 0.001). Out of patients over 80 years of age, 51.5% were care dependent and 45.5% of the patients over 90 years were living in homes for the elderly.

Conclusions: In a representative sample of Swiss primary care patients, a substantial part shows multimorbidity with a high prevalence of chronic diseases, multiple drug treatment, and care dependency. These data may serve to be compared with other patient groups or other primary care systems. Trial registration NCT0229537, national study registry SNCTP000001207.

Trial registration: NCT02295371.

Keywords: Care dependency; Drug treatment; Hospitalization; Morbidity; Primary health care; Switzerland.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease / drug therapy
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • General Practice / statistics & numerical data
  • Homes for the Aged / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Homes / statistics & numerical data
  • Pediatrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Prescription Drugs / therapeutic use
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sentinel Surveillance*
  • Switzerland


  • Prescription Drugs

Associated data