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Br J Gen Pract 62:e821.
Aragón Health Sciences Institute (IACS), Miguel Servet University Hospital, University of Zaragoza, Spain
BACKGROUND: The consequences of multimorbidity include polypharmacy and repeated referrals for specialised care, which may increase the risk of adverse drug events (ADEs).
AIM: The objective of this study was to analyse the influence of multimorbidity, polypharmacy, and multiple referrals on the frequency of ADEs, as an indicator of therapeutic safety, in the context of a national healthcare system.
DESIGN AND SETTING: This was a multicentre, retrospective, observational study of 79 089 adult patients treated during 2008 in primary care centres.
METHOD: The explanatory patient variables sex, age, level of multimorbidity, polypharmacy, number of primary care physician visits, and number of different specialties attended were analysed. The response variable was the occurrence of ADEs. Logistic regression models were used to identify associations among the analysed variables.
RESULTS: The prevalence of individuals with at least one ADE was 0.88%. Multivariate analysis identified the following variables as risk factors for the occurrence of ADE in descending order of effect size: multimorbidity level (odds ratio [OR]Veryhigh/Low = 45.26; ORHigh/Low = 17.58; ORModerate/Low = 4.25), polypharmacy (OR = 1.34), female sex (OR = 1.31), number of different specialties (OR = 1.20), and number of primary care physician visits (OR = 1.01). Age, however, did not show statistical significance (OR = 1.00; 95% confidence interval = 0.996 to 1.005).
CONCLUSION: The results of this study demonstrate that multimorbidity is strongly related to the occurrence of ADEs, insofar as it requires the intervention of multiple specialties and the prescription of multiple medications. Further research should shed light on the causal pathway between multimorbidity and increased risk of adverse events.
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