Survey results for

March/May: Comorbidities: Survey Results

In a recent survey of talkhealth members, who are living with or affected by a chronic health condition, 87% of respondents cited they live with a comorbidity (two or more health conditions). What’s more, the most commonly reported ‘secondary’ conditions are depression (42%) and anxiety (40%).

This stands in direct correlation to a widely cited study published in The Primary Care Companion which found that around half of people live with a comorbid mental health condition. It reads: ‘The presence of depressive/anxiety comorbidity substantially increases medical utilization and is associated with greater chronicity, slower recovery, increased rates of recurrence, and greater psychosocial disability.’

Findings from the talkhealth survey are in further correlation to these findings, with 54% of people saying that having a second health condition has an additional impact on their lives. With only 2% of people citing ‘no additional impact’.

On top of mental health challenges, other frequently cited comorbid conditions included high blood pressure, arthritis, obesity, diabetes and fibromyalgia.

A large portion of respondents reported challenges when it comes to the treatment of two or more conditions at once, with many citing lack of medical professional understanding about various conditions and how they interlink. This is indicated from the 30% of people who are not asked about their other conditions when visiting specialist consultations.

It’s clear patients find a more holistic approach to their comorbidity useful, with three-quarters of respondents seeking medical assistance from their GP the most fulfilling. What’s more, most people rely on their family and friends for additional support with 33% citing that they use their support system, the highest ranking answer. This evidence proves that a deeper understanding of a patient's conditions, and how they interlink, is vital for the care of people living with multiple health challenges.

Where doctors reportedly can be lacking in the knowledge of comorbidities and how they can conflict, 89% of respondents cite that they are asked about their differing medications when visiting various healthcare professionals, albeit not actually asked about their conditions. However, anecdotal written evidence points towards the fact that there may be a lack of understanding surrounding the way medications for different conditions conflict, and indeed, the mental toll of taking various treatments.

Interestingly, when seeking self-management advice for their comorbidity, respondents are less likely to use websites that sell products or pharmaceutical services. On the other hand, government health websites are the most widely rated for use, followed by patient support and then charity websites..

With most people turning to their close support systems for assistance, it comes as no surprise that when asked what they would find useful for the management of their conditions, many cite ‘support groups’, ‘free online forums’, and ‘someone to talk to’.

All of the collected information points towards the fact that a more holistic awareness and understanding of health - from both patients and their healthcare professionals - is vital for the treatment of comorbidities. To round off, and reiterate this conclusion, when posed the question, ‘self-care has a huge part to play when it comes to living with and managing my conditions’, 62% of people strongly agreed, with no one strongly disagreeing.

If you're interested in a detailed analysis of the results for these surveys please contact us.