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BACKGROUND: Multimorbidity, defined as the presence of two or more long-term conditions, is a growing public health challenge, especially in terms of prevention and accumulation of long-term conditions among particular population cohorts. To date, efforts to understand multimorbidity has focused mainly on specific disease combinations, with little known about the sociodemographic factors associated with it. The study aimed to assess the factors associated with multimorbidity in England. METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), a dataset of people aged 50 years and older. The study identified ten long-term conditions from waves 2 to 9. Wave 2 to 9 were conducted between June 2004 to July 2005, May 2006 to August 2007, May 2008 to July 2009, June 2010 to July 2011, May 2012 to June 2013, June 2014 to May 2015, May 2016 to June 2017 and June 2018 to July 2019, respectively. The study included people with two or more long-term conditions. We identified the number of long-term conditions and multimorbidity, and we examined their association with age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, employment status, education, weekly contact with relative, and feeling lonely, sad or depressed using multinomial logistic regression. FINDINGS: Of 16 731 people recruited from wave 2 to wave 9, we identified 10 026 people with multimorbidity aged 50 years and older. The majority had two conditions (39%) and were female (55%), aged 50-69 years (32%), of white ethnicity (96%), married (69%) and unemployed (65·3%). The adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of having more than two long-term conditions increased with age, after adjusting for sex and ethnicity (≥5 conditions: aOR 12·89, 95% CI 2·23-3·76). Being female was associated with an increased risk of having more than two long-term conditions (≥5 conditions: aOR 1·21, 1·04-1·42). Similarly, being separated, divorced, or widowed were associated with having more than two long-term conditions (≥5 conditions: aOR 1·45, 1·21-1·74). Not owning a home was independently associated with more than two long-term conditions (≥5 conditions: aOR 1·59, 1·35-1·88). INTERPRETATION: The current analysis used only ten long-term conditions that were available in the ELSA data, so a different association might have arisen if other conditions had been considered. Our findings provide insights into which particular groups of the multimorbid population could be the target of preventive public health strategies and wider clinical and social care interventions in England to reduce the burden of multimorbidity. FUNDING: National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date



402 Suppl 1


Humans, Male, Female, Middle Aged, Aged, Longitudinal Studies, Multimorbidity, Cross-Sectional Studies, Aging, England