Multimorbidity in patients enrolled in a community-based methadone maintenance treatment programme delivered through primary care

Diane E. Arnold-Reed, Tom Brett, Lakkhina Troeung, Jasmine O'Neill, Rupert Backhouse, Max K. Bulsara


Background: Multimorbidity, the co-existence of two or more (2+) long-term conditions in an individual, is common among problem drug abusers. Objective: To delineate the patterns, multimorbidity prevalence, and disease severity in patients enrolled in a community-based primary care methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) programme. Design: This was a retrospective cohort study (n=274). The comparator group consisted of mainstream primary care patients. Electronic medical record assessment was performed using the Cumulative Illness Rating Scale. Results: Prevalence of multimorbidity across 2+ domains was significantly higher within the MMT sample at 88.7% (243/274) than the comparator sample at 51.8% (142/274), p<0.001. MMT patients were seven times more likely to have multimorbidity across 2+ domains compared with mainstream patients (OR 7.29, 95% confidence interval 4.68–11.34; p<0.001). Prevalence of multimorbidity was consistently high across all age groups in the MMT cohort (range 87.8–100%), while there was a positive correlation with age in the comparator cohort (r=0.29, p<0.001). Respiratory, psychiatric, and hepatic–pancreatic domains were the three most common domains with multimorbidity. Overall, MMT patients (mean±SD, 1.97±0.43) demonstrated significantly higher disease severity than mainstream patients (mean±SD, 1.18±0.78), p<0.001. Prevalence of moderate disease severity observed in the <45-year MMT age group was 50% higher than the ≥45-year comparator age group. Conclusions: Prevalence of multimorbidity and disease severity in MMT patients was greater than in the age- and sex-matched comparators. Patients with a history of drug abuse require co-ordinated care for treatment of their addiction, and to manage and prevent chronic illnesses. Community-based programmes delivered through primary care help fulfil this need.

Journal of Comorbidity 2014;4(1):46–54


multimorbidity, chronic disease, primary care, severity of illness index, methadone maintenance treatment, drug abuse, Cumulative Illness Rating Scale

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    ISSN 2235-042X