The Association between Mental-Physical Multimorbidity and Disability, Work Productivity, and Social Participation in China: a Panel Data Analysis

Tianxin Pan, Stewart W Mercer, Yang Zhao, Barbara McPake, Allissa Desloge, Rifat Atun, Emily Susannah Grace Hulse, John Tayu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background
The co-occurrence of mental and physical chronic conditions (mental-physical multimorbidity) is a growing and largely unaddressed challenge for health systems and wider economies in low-and middle-income countries. This study investigated the independent and combined (additive or synergistic) effects of mental and physical chronic conditions on disability, work productivity, and social participation in China.

Methods
Panel data study design utilised two waves of the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (2011, 2015), including 5616 participants aged ≥45 years, 12 physical chronic conditions and depression. We used a panel data approach of random-effects regression models to assess the relationships between mental-physical multimorbidity and outcomes.

Results
After adjusting for socio-economic and demographic factors, an increased number of physical chronic conditions was independently associated with a higher likelihood of disability (Adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.39; 95% CI: 1.33, 1.45), early retirement (AOR = 1.37 [1.26, 1.49]) and increased sick leave days (1.25 days [1.16, 1.35]). Depression was independently associated with disability (AOR = 3.78 [3.30, 4.34]), increased sick leave days (2.18 days [1.72, 2.77]) and a lower likelihood of social participation (AOR = 0.57 [0.47, 0.70]), but not with early retirement (AOR = 1.24 [0.97, 1.58]). There were small and statistically insignificant interactions between physical chronic conditions and mental health on disability, work productivity and social participation, suggesting an additive effect of mental-physical multimorbidity on productivity loss.

Conclusion
Mental-physical multimorbidity poses substantial negative health and economic effects on individuals, health systems, and societies. More research that addresses the challenges of mental-physical multimorbidity is needed to inform the development of interventions that can be applied to the workplace and the wider community in China.

Keywords
Multimorbidity; Physical conditions; Mental health conditions; Productivity; Disability; Economic impact; China
Original languageEnglish
Article number21
JournalBMC Public Health
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2021

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