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Multimorbidity is associated with the income, education, employment and health domains of area-level deprivation in adult residents in the UK

Evidence suggests that there are social inequalities in multimorbidity, with a recent review indicating that area levels of deprivation are consistently associated with greater levels of multimorbidity. Definitions of multimorbidity, the most common of which is the co-occurrence of more than one long term condition, can include long term physical conditions, mental health conditions or both. The most commonly used measure of deprivation in England and Wales is the Index of Multiple Deprivation
(IMD), an index of seven different deprivation domains. It is unclear which features of IMD may be mediating associations with multimorbidity. Thus, there may be associations because of the individual characteristics of those living in deprived areas, characteristics of the areas themselves or overlap in definitions. Data from over 25,000 participants (aged 16+) of Understanding Society (Wave 10, 1/2018–3/2020) were used to understand the most salient features of multimorbidity associated with IMD and whether physical or mental conditions are differentially associated with the seven domains of IMD. 24% of participants report multimorbidity. There is an increased prevalence of multimorbidity composed of only long-term physical conditions in the most deprived decile of deprivation (22%, 95% CI[19,25]) compared to the least deprived decile (16%, 95% CI[14,18]). Mental health symptoms but not reporting of conditions vary by decile of IMD. Associations with multimorbidity are limited to the health, income, education and employment domains of IMD. We conclude that multimorbidity represents a substantial population burden, particularly in the most deprived areas in England and Wales.



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