BACKGROUND: People with multimorbidity have reduced functional capacity, lower quality of life, higher mortality rates and use healthcare resources more intensively than healthy people or those with a single chronic condition. Multimorbidity was defined as the coexistence of two or more chronic conditions in the same person. The aim of this study was to explore associations between multimorbidity and use of healthcare services and the impact of socioeconomic status on utilization of hospitalizations and bed days.
METHODS: The study population included all individuals aged 16 years and older who lived in the Capital Region of Denmark on January 1st, 2012. Data on chronic conditions, use of healthcare services and demographics were obtained from Danish national administrative and health registries. Zero-inflated models were used to calculate anticipated annual use of hospitalizations and bed days.
FINDINGS: The study population comprised 1,397,173 individuals; the prevalence of multimorbidity was 22%. Prevalence was inversely related to educational attainment. For people with multimorbidity, utilization of hospitalizations and bed days increased approximately linearly with the number of chronic conditions. However, a steep increase in utilization of bed days was observed between five and six or more chronic conditions. An educational gradient in hospitalization rates and use of bed days was observed regardless of the number of chronic conditions. Educational attainment was strongly associated with healthcare utilization.
CONCLUSION: Multimorbidity was associated with a significant increase in utilization of all healthcare services in Denmark. In addition, a socioeconomic gradient was observed in utilization of hospitalizations and bed days.