PloS one 2017 03 0912(3) e0172935 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0172935
To estimate the prevalence of common chronic conditions and multimorbidity among patients at GP encounters and among people in the Australian population. To assess the extent to which use of each individual patient’s GP attendance over the previous year, instead of the average for their age-sex group, affects the precision of national population prevalence estimates of diagnosed chronic conditions.
DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS
A sub-study (between November 2012 and March 2016) of the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health program, a continuous national study of GP activity. Each of 1,449 GPs provided data for about 30 consecutive patients (total 43,501) indicating for each, number of GP attendances in previous year and all diagnosed chronic conditions, using their knowledge of the patient, patient self-report, and patient’s health record.
Hypertension (26.5%) was the most prevalent diagnosed chronic condition among patients surveyed, followed by osteoarthritis (22.7%), hyperlipidaemia (16.6%), depression (16.3%), anxiety (11.9%), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD) (11.3%), chronic back pain (9.7%) and Type 2 diabetes (9.6%). After adjustment, we estimated population prevalence of hypertension as 12.4%, 9.5% osteoarthritis, 8.2% hyperlipidaemia, 8.0% depression, 5.8% anxiety and 5.2% asthma. Estimates were significantly lower than those derived using the previous method. About half (51.6%) the patients at GP encounters had two or more diagnosed chronic conditions and over one third (37.4%) had three or more. Population estimates were: 25.7% had two or more diagnosed chronic conditions and 15.8% had three or more.
Of the three approaches we have tested to date, this study provides the most accurate method for estimation of population prevalence of chronic conditions using the GP as an expert interviewer, by adjusting for each patient’s reported attendance.