BMJ Global Health: preventing multimorbidity and developing people-centred integrated care model are essential for China’s healthcare system

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality globally. The prevalence of multimorbidity, defined as two or more co-existing NCDs in a person, is increasing rapidly in low-income and middle-income countries to cause considerable suffering and financial burden.

New research published in British Medical Journal (BMJ) Global Health provides and estimate of the effect of multimorbidity on total medical and out-of-pocket expenditure (OOPE), which increases as health expenditure increases.

This is the first study of its type in China to examine the effect of multimorbidity on treatment costs and OOPE, using a nationally-representative dataset.

The study used the newest round of data from China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS 2015), which included 10,592 participants aged ≥45 years, and covered 15 physical and mental chronic diseases. Quantile multivariable regression analysis was employed to determine the relationships of chronic disease multimorbidity and medical costs and OOPE. 

 “Instead of focusing on prevention and treatment of a single disease, NCD care delivery model should take into account of patients with multiple, comorbid, health conditions,” said first author Dr Yang (William) Zhao, a research fellow at The George Institute China, and previous research scholar at the University of Melbourne. “To deliver more cost-effective and better care for multimorbidity patients, preventing multimorbidity and developing people-centred integrated care models is a key priority.”