PURPOSE: Little information is available on multimorbidity in primary care in India. Because primary care is the first contact of health care for most of the population and important for coordinating chronic care, we wanted to examine the prevalence and correlates of multimorbidity in India and its association with health care utilization.
METHODS: Using a structured multimorbidity assessment protocol, we conducted a cross-sectional study, collecting information on 22 self-reported chronic conditions in a representative sample of 1,649 adult primary care patients in Odisha, India.
RESULTS: The overall age- and sex-adjusted prevalence of multimorbidity was 28.3% (95% CI, 24.3-28.6) ranging from 5.8% in patients aged 18 to 29 years to 45% in those aged older than 70 years. Older age, female sex, higher education, and high income were associated with significantly higher odds of multimorbidity. After adjusting for age, sex, socioeconomic status (SES), education, and ethnicity, the addition of each chronic condition, as well as consultation at private hospitals, was associated with significant increase in the number of medicines intake per person per day. Increasing age and higher education status significantly raised the number of hospital visits per person per year for patients with multiple chronic conditions.
CONCLUSION: Our findings of higher prevalence of multimorbidity and hospitalizations in higher SES individuals contrast with findings in Western countries, where lower SES is associated with a greater morbidity burden.