Measuring Multimorbidity Inequality Across Italy Through the Multisource Comorbidity Score: A Nationwide Study

Eur J Public Health. 2020 May 20;ckaa063. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckaa063. Online ahead of print.


Background: Multimorbidity is a growing concern for healthcare systems, with many countries experiencing demographic transition to older population profiles. A simple multisource comorbidity score (MCS) has been recently developed and validated. A very large real-world investigation was conducted with the aim of measuring inequalities in the MCS distribution across Italy.

Methods: Beneficiaries of the Italian National Health Service aged 50-85 years who in 2018 were resident in one of the 10 participant regions formed the study population (15.7 million of the 24.9 million overall resident in Italy). MCS was assigned to each beneficiary by categorizing the individual sum of the comorbid values (i.e. the weights corresponding to the comorbid conditions of which the individual suffered) into one of the six categories denoting a progressive worsening comorbidity status. MCS distributions in women and men across geographic partitions were compared.

Results: Compared with beneficiaries from northern Italy, those from centre and south showed worse comorbidity profile for both women and men. MCS median age (i.e. the age above which half of the beneficiaries suffered at least one comorbidity) ranged from 60 (centre and south) to 68 years (north) in women and from 63 (centre and south) to 68 years (north) in men. The percentage of comorbid population was lower than 50% for northern population, whereas it was around 60% for central and southern ones.

Conclusion: MCS allowed of capturing geographic variability of multimorbidity prevalence, thus showing up its value for addressing health policy in order to guide national health planning.