Multistate survival modelling of multimorbidity and transitions across health needs states and death in an ageing population

Qian Gao*, Graciela Muniz Terrera, Rosie Mayston, Matthew Prina

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: Unmet health needs have the potential to capture health inequality. Nevertheless, the course of healthcare needs fulfilment, and the role of multimorbidity in this process remains unclear. This study assessed the bidirectional transitions between met and unmet health needs and the transition to death and examined the effect of multimorbidity on transitions.

METHODS: This study was based on the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study, a nationally representative survey in 2011-2015 among 18 075 participants aged 45 and above (average age 61.1; SD 9.9). We applied a multistate survival model to estimate the probabilities and the instantaneous risk of state transitions, and Gompertz hazard models were fitted to estimate the total, marginal and state-specific life expectancies (LEs).

RESULTS: Living with physical multimorbidity (HR=1.85, 95% CI 1.58 to 2.15) or physical-mental multimorbidity (HR=1.45, 95% CI 1.15 to 1.82) was associated with an increased risk of transitioning into unmet healthcare needs compared with no multimorbidity. Conversely, multimorbidity groups had a decreased risk of transitioning out of unmet needs. Multimorbidity was also associated with shortened total life expectancy (TLEs), and the proportion of marginal LE for having unmet needs was more than two times higher than no multimorbidity.

CONCLUSION: Multimorbidity aggravates the risk of transitioning into having unmet healthcare needs in the middle and later life, leading to a notable reduction in TLEs, with longer times spent with unmet needs. Policy inputs on developing integrated person-centred services and specifically scaling up to target the complex health needs of ageing populations need to be in place.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Early online date11 Jan 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Jan 2024


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