Prevalence and patterns of multi-morbidity in Serbian adults: A cross-sectional study

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INTRODUCTION: Like many developing countries, Serbia is facing a growing burden of chronic diseases. Within such public health issue, multi-morbidity requires a special attention.<br /><br />AIMS: This study investigated the prevalence of multi-morbidity in the Serbia population and assessed the co-occurrence of chronic diseases by age and gender.<br /><br />METHODS: We analyzed data from the 2013 National Health Survey, which included 13,103 individuals ≥ 20 years old. Multi-morbidity patterns were identified by exploratory factor analysis of data on self-reported chronic diseases, as well as data on measured body weight and height. The analysis was stratified by age and gender.<br /><br />RESULTS: Multi-morbidity was present in nearly one-third of respondents (26.9%) and existed in all age groups, with the highest prevalence among individuals aged 65 years and older (47.2% of men and 65.0% of women). Six patterns of multi-morbidity were identified: non-communicable, cardio-metabolic, respiratory, cardiovascular, aggregate, and mechanical/mental/metabolic. The non-communicable pattern was observed in both genders but only in the 20-44 years age group, while the aggregate pattern occurred only in middle-aged men. Cardio-metabolic and respiratory patterns were present in all age groups. Cardiovascular and mechanical/mental/metabolic patterns showed similar presentation in both men and women.<br /><br />CONCLUSIONS: Multi-morbidity is a common occurrence among adults in Serbia, especially in the elderly. While several patterns may be explained by underlying pathophysiologies, some require further investigation and follow-up. Recognizing the complexity of multi-morbidity in Serbia is of great importance from both clinical and preventive perspectives given that it affects one-third of the population and may require adjustment of the healthcare system to address the needs of affected individuals.




Drajovic, G., Vukovic, D., & Marinkovic, J. (2016). Prevalence and patterns of multi-morbidity in Serbian adults: A cross-sectional study. PLoS ONE, 11(2).

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