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Impact of multimorbidity in health status


04 February 2020


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Dr Maryanne Heather, SouthSeas Healthcare GP.

Issue 27 of the Pacific Health Review features the research on the impact of multimorbodity on people’s lives conducted by authors Jeannine Stairmand, Jason Gurney, James Stanley, Elinor Millar, Cheryl Davies, Kelly Semper, Anthony Dowell, Dee Mangin, Ross Lawrenson and Diana Sarfati. The research describes the experiences of people living with multimorbidity in New Zealand.

Multimorbidity is the coexistence of more than one chronic disease. This is when people often live with many health conditions.

The research conducted a cross-sectional survey of adults with multimorbidity enrolled in two primary health organisations in New Zealand, with a total of 234 participants. Research found that results for self-reported physical and mental health showed poorer health reported by Māori and Pacific participants. These results emphasise the serious impact multimorbidity has on patients’ health status. The research also supports the development of holistic patient-centred care models designed to improve patient outcomes.

Dr Maryanne Heather, SouthSeas Healthcare GP and Senior Pacific Health lecturer at the School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland says to improve safety in primary care, it is essential to take into account the care of people with multiple health conditions.

“The data from this research is consistent with what we see in primary care in South Auckland, as reflected in our large Pacific population.”

Although the study is a snapshot of 234 patients, about 19 percent were of Pacific decent and a strong call comes from Dr Heather to consider a much larger-scale study. This will include patients who are not admitted to hospitals.

Multimorbidity is more common in disadvantaged groups, contributing to health inequalities.

Dr Heather suggests looking into how the system is delivering the model of care. “We continue to see poor health outcomes, especially with diabetes prevalence in South Auckland with no improvement over the last ten years. Perhaps the solution lies with how we deliver the model of care,” says Dr Heather.

“There needs to be a big change in how we deliver healthcare to Pacific patients. Although we acknowledge models of care and health programmes are holistic, they also need to be Pacific specific.”

Issue 27 of the Pacific Health Review also featured topics such as avoidable mortality and inequalities in life expectancy, underdiagnosis of depression and anxiety disorders, suicide mortality in Pacific New Zealanders, mental wellbeing of elite rugby players and many more.

Click here to access other issues of Pacific Health Review.

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