Incidence and predictors of multimorbidity among older adults in Korea: a 10-year cohort study

Tae Wha Lee, Jane Chung, Kijun Song, Eunkyung Kim

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Background: Due to the rapid growth of the older adult population, multimorbidity has become a global concern for an aging society. Multimorbidity has been associated with poor health outcomes, including low quality of life and a high risk of mortality, resulting in an overload of healthcare systems. However, multimorbidity incidence and its related factors are poorly understood among older adults. This study aimed to determine whether sociodemographic characteristics, lifestyle, and psychosocial factors predict multimorbidity incidence among older adults in Korea. Methods: This longitudinal study used the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging (KLoSA) dataset from 2008 to 2018. The KLoSA is a panel survey of nationally representative samples aimed at providing data for developing socioeconomic policies for the increasing aging population in Korea. The study sample included 1967 older adults aged 65 years and over who had none or one of the chronic diseases at the baseline in 2008. Multimorbidity incidence was defined as the co-existence of two or more chronic diseases among 12 doctor-diagnosed diseases based on self-reports. Cox’s proportional hazards models were used to identify significant predictors of multimorbidity incidence over a 10-year follow-up period. Results: Among 1967 respondents (female 54.5%, mean age 72.94), 625 (31.8%) incidents of multimorbidity were reported, contributing to 47.5 incidents per 1000 people after 10 years of follow-up. Low levels of social interaction, obesity, past smoking habits, and current or past drinking habits were identified as significant predictors of multimorbidity incidence among older adults in Korea. Conclusions: This study identified older adults at high risk for multimorbidity incidence. These groups require more attention from health care providers in the course of chronic disease monitoring and management. Specific interventions and health policies to promote social interaction and a healthy lifestyle are essential to delay multimorbidity incidence. This longitudinal approach will contribute to developing preventive strategies to reduce the incidence of multimorbidity among older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number565
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (No. 2020R1A6A1A03041989). Eunkyung Kim received a scholarship from the Brain Korea 21 FOUR Project funded by NRF, Yonsei University College of Nursing.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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