The association between secondary care multimorbidity in mid-life and premature mortality

Johnston, M, Black, C, Mercer, S W, Prescott, Gordon orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9156-2361 and Crilly, M (2020) The association between secondary care multimorbidity in mid-life and premature mortality. European Journal of Public Health, 30 (S5). ISSN 1101-1262

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Abstract Background Multimorbidity (MM) is the co-existence of two or more health conditions. Whilst its prevalence is higher in older adults, in absolute numbers there are more multimorbid young people. Recently, the trends for increasing life expectancy observed in high income countries have stalled or reversed. The relationship between MM and premature mortality requires exploration. We assessed the prevalence of secondary care MM in mid-life and its association with premature mortality in the Scottish Aberdeen Children of the 1950s (ACONF) cohort. Methods Prospective cohort study. ACONF members were linked to electronic hospital records and mortality records. Secondary care MM was assessed using hospital records in 2001 when participants were aged 45-51 years. The association between MM and mortality over 15 years (to age 60-66 years) was assessed using Cox proportional hazards regression. There was adjustment for key covariates: age, gender, social class at birth, childhood intelligence, educational attainment, alcohol, smoking, body mass index and adult social class. Results Of 9,625 participants (51% male), 3% had MM. Higher childhood intelligence and adult social class were associated with reduced MM. In relation to the reference group (no MM), those with MM had a mortality hazard ratio of 4.5 (95% CI 3.4-6.0) over 15 years. The association remained when adjusted for the covariates (2.5 [95% CI 1.5-4.0]). Conclusions Secondary care MM prevalence was 3% in mid-life and associated with premature mortality. Younger adults with MM are an important group at risk of premature mortality which should be the focus of public health action. This includes reducing the impact of social inequality and reconfiguring secondary care services to offer comprehensive management of younger multimorbid adults. Key messages Multimorbidity in mid-life is associated with premature mortality and may be an important influence on reducing life expectancy trends. Much focus is upon multimorbidity in older adults, however younger adults with multimorbidity are at risk of premature mortality, requiring public health action.

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