Middle-income countries are facing a growing challenge of adequate health care provision for people with multimorbidity. The objectives of this study were to explore the distribution of multimorbidity and to identify patterns of multimorbidity in the Brazilian general adult population. Data from 60202 adults, aged ≥18 years that completed the individual questionnaire of the National Health Survey 2013 (Portuguese: “Pesquisa Nacional de Saúde”–“PNS”) was used. We defined multimorbidity as the presence of two or more chronic conditions, including self-reported diagnoses and responses to the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire for depression. Multivariate Poisson regression analyses were used to explore relationship between multimorbidity and demographic factors. Exploratory tetrachoric factor analysis was performed to identify multimorbidity patterns. 24.2% (95% CI 23.5–24.9) of the study population were multimorbid, with prevalence rate ratios being significantly higher in women, older people and those with lowest educational level. Multimorbidity occurred earlier in women than in men, with half of the women and men aged 55–59 years and 65–69 years, respectively, were multimorbid. The absolute number of people with multimorbidity was approximately 2.5-fold higher in people younger than 65 years than older counterparts (9920 vs 3945). Prevalence rate ratios of any mental health disorder significantly increased with the number of physical conditions. 46.7% of the persons were assigned to at least one of three identified patterns of multimorbidity, including: “cardio-metabolic”, “musculoskeletal-mental” and “respiratory” disorders. Multimorbidity in Brazil is as common as in more affluent countries. Women in Brazil develop diseases at younger ages than men. Our findings can inform a national action plan to prevent multimorbidity, reduce its burden and align health-care services more closely with patients’ needs.
Funding: The survey data used in the study was financed by the Brazilian Ministry of Health (no. 328 159, 26 June 2013). Magdalena Rzewuska is funded by the Science without Borders Programme for “Young Talent Attraction” (CAPES, grant number: CSF-PAJT - 88887.090476/2014-00). The founders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of manuscript.