BACKGROUND: Caring for patients with multimorbidity is common for generalists, although such patients are often excluded from clinical trials, and thus such trials lack of generalizability. Data on the association between multimorbidity and preventive care are limited. We aimed to assess whether comorbidity number, severity and type were associated with preventive care among patients receiving care in Swiss University primary care settings.
METHODS: We examined a retrospective cohort composed of a random sample of 1,002 patients aged 50-80 years attending four Swiss university primary care settings. Multimorbidity was defined according to the literature and the Charlson index. We assessed the quality of preventive care and cardiovascular preventive care with RAND's Quality Assessment Tool indicators. Aggregate scores of quality of provided care were calculated by taking into account the number of eligible patients for each indicator.
RESULTS: Participants (mean age 63.5 years, 44% women) had a mean of 2.6 (SD 1.9) comorbidities and 67.5% had 2 or more comorbidities. The mean Charlson index was 1.8 (SD 1.9). Overall, participants received 69% of recommended preventive care and 84% of cardiovascular preventive care. Quality of care was not associated with higher numbers of comorbidities, both for preventive care and for cardiovascular preventive care. Results were similar in analyses using the Charlson index and after adjusting for age, gender, occupation, center and number of visits. Some patients may receive less preventive care including those with dementia (47%) and those with schizophrenia (35%).
CONCLUSIONS: In Swiss university primary care settings, two thirds of patients had 2 or more comorbidities. The receipt of preventive and cardiovascular preventive care was not affected by comorbidity count or severity, although patients with certain comorbidities may receive lower levels of preventive care.