Objective: To compare the similarities among the multimorbidity patterns identified in primary care patients from two European regions (Spain and the Netherlands) with similar organisational features of their primary care systems, using validated methodologies.
Methodology: This observational, retrospective, multicentre study analysed information from primary care electronic medical records. Multimorbidity patterns were assessed using exploratory factor analysis of the diagnostic information of patients over 14 years of age. The analysis was stratified by age groups and sex.
Results: The analysis of Dutch data revealed a higher prevalence of multimorbidity which corresponds with the clustering of a higher number of diseases in each of the patterns. Relevant clinical similarities were found between both countries for three multimorbidity patterns that were previously identified in the original Spanish study: cardiometabolic, mechanical and psychiatric-substance abuse. In addition, the clinical evolution towards complexity of the cardiometabolic pattern with advancing age -already demonstrated in the original study-was corroborated in the Dutch context. A clear association between mechanical and psychosocial disorders was unique to the Dutch population, as well as the recurrent presentation of the psychiatric-substance abuse pattern in all age and sex groups.
Conclusions: The similarities found for the cardiometabolic, mechanical and psychiatric-substance abuse patterns in primary care patients from two different European countries could offer initial clues for the elaboration of clinical practice guidelines, if further evidenced in other contexts. This study also endorses the use of primary care electronic medical records for the epidemiologic characterization of multimorbidity.