Disparities in multimorbidity across Europe: Findings from the SHARE Survey

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Introduction: Europe is the continent with the highest share of older adults, many of which suffer from multiple chronic conditions (multimorbidity) and the associated negative outcomes. Health inequalities across European regions exist, but little is known about regional differences in multimorbidity.

Material and methods: Cross-sectional analyses of data collected in the 5th wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) during 2013. The study population included 50+-year-olds from 14 European countries and Israel.

Results: Across all regions age and gender adjusted multimorbidity prevalence was 31.4% [30.7; 32.2]. Northern Europe had the lowest multimorbidity prevalence of 26.2% [25.2; 27.1], while Eastern and Central Europe had the highest, 35.2% [33.8; 36.5] and 34.8% [33.8; 35.9], respectively. In all regions female gender, increasing age, lower education, and lower household income were independently and significantly associated with higher odds of multimorbidity. Interestingly, 70–79-year-old Central and Eastern Europeans suffered from about the same level of multimorbidity as 80 ± year old northern Europeans. A similar pattern was seen for high education versus low education in Central and Eastern Europe compared to Northern Europe.

Conclusion: Multimorbidity is highly prevalent among older Europeans, but more so among Europeans in the Eastern and Central regions. Societal initiatives to improve health care for older adults are warranted in order to decrease old age health inequalities between Europeans regions, where Central and Eastern European regions seem to suffer more from the burden of multimorbidity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Geriatric Medicine
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)16-21
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Multimorbidity
  • chronic disease
  • Health inequality
  • Aging
  • Europe


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