Multimorbidity and Quaternary Prevention (P4)

Dee Mangin, Iona Heath


Multimorbidity has become the norm for the majority of patients attending primary care, and while the proportion of those with multimorbidity is higher in older age, the absolute number of people with multimorbidity is greater in those under 65. The specialist-based single-disease model of treatment assumes that each index disease is the dominant illness within the complex system and that the other comorbid illnesses are held constant while management is focussed on the single condition. Thus, applying single disease guidelines to a person with five chronic comorbidities, no matter what they are, results in potentially harmful polypharmacy. This approach has led to the current ‘epidemic’ in morbidity and mortality from adverse drug reactions that now outstrip the target diseases as a cause of death. In this article, we highlight four characteristics of quaternary prevention framework that policymakers should take into account when considering the quality of health care. 


Saúde do Idoso; Comorbidade; Interações de Medicamentos; Medicalização; Prevenção Quaternária

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