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1.  Multimorbidity and comorbidity in the Dutch population – data from general practices 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:715.
Multimorbidity is increasingly recognized as a major public health challenge of modern societies. However, knowledge about the size of the population suffering from multimorbidity and the type of multimorbidity is scarce. The objective of this study was to present an overview of the prevalence of multimorbidity and comorbidity of chronic diseases in the Dutch population and to explore disease clustering and common comorbidities.
We used 7 years data (2002–2008) of a large Dutch representative network of general practices (212,902 patients). Multimorbidity was defined as having two or more out of 29 chronic diseases. The prevalence of multimorbidity was calculated for the total population and by sex and age group. For 10 prevalent diseases among patients of 55 years and older (N = 52,014) logistic regressions analyses were used to study disease clustering and descriptive analyses to explore common comorbid diseases.
Multimorbidity of chronic diseases was found among 13% of the Dutch population and in 37% of those older than 55 years. Among patients over 55 years with a specific chronic disease more than two-thirds also had one or more other chronic diseases. Most disease pairs occurred more frequently than would be expected if diseases had been independent. Comorbidity was not limited to specific combinations of diseases; about 70% of those with a disease had one or more extra chronic diseases recorded which were not included in the top five of most common diseases.
Multimorbidity is common at all ages though increasing with age, with over two-thirds of those with chronic diseases and aged 55 years and older being recorded with multimorbidity. Comorbidity encompassed many different combinations of chronic diseases. Given the ageing population, multimorbidity and its consequences should be taken into account in the organization of care in order to avoid fragmented care, in medical research and healthcare policy.
PMCID: PMC3490727  PMID: 22935268
Multimorbidity; Comorbidity; Chronic disease; Epidemiology; Prevalence
2.  Mental health in the Dutch population and in general practice: 1987–2001 
In the last 15 years, both the demand for and supply of specialised mental health care increased considerably in the Netherlands. Increased demand may reflect a change in psychological morbidity, but may also be a consequence of increased supply. Specialised health care in the Netherlands is accessible only through referral by a GP, and so it is important to consider the role of primary care in the diagnosis of mental health problems.
The aim of this study is to achieve a better understanding of the development of mental health status in the Dutch population and the consequent help-seeking behaviour in primary care.
Using two comparable morbidity studies carried out in the Dutch population and in primary care, we compared data from 1987 and 2001 to assess the following: possible differences in mental health between 1987 and 2001; possible differences in prevalence of mental disorder as diagnosed by GPs in 1987 and 2001; possible differences in the sociodemographic determinants of mental health and mental disorder in primary care between 1987 and 2001.
Our results show an increase in mental and social problems in the population between 1987 and 2001. However, GPs diagnosed fewer patients as having a mental disorder in 2001 than they did in 1987. The risk of mental disorders or social problems in several sociodemographic groups remained largely the same, as did the chance of receiving a psychological or social diagnosis.
We conclude that, while mental disorder in the population is increasing, the role of primary care has changed. Although GPs diagnose a lower percentage of mental problems as such, they refer an increasingly larger proportion of these to secondary care.
PMCID: PMC1562334  PMID: 16212852
diagnosis; mental health; referral rates
3.  Disability weights for comorbidity and their influence on Health-adjusted Life Expectancy 
Comorbidity complicates estimations of health-adjusted life expectancy (HALE) using disease prevalences and disability weights from Burden of Disease studies. Usually, the exact amount of comorbidity is unknown and no disability weights are defined for comorbidity.
Using data of the Dutch national burden of disease study, the effects of different methods to adjust for comorbidity on HALE calculations are estimated. The default multiplicative adjustment method to define disability weights for comorbidity is compared to HALE estimates without adjustment for comorbidity and to HALE estimates in which the amount of disability in patients with multiple diseases is solely determined by the disease that leads to most disability (the maximum adjustment method). To estimate the amount of comorbidity, independence between diseases is assumed.
Compared to the multiplicative adjustment method, the maximum adjustment method lowers HALE estimates by 1.2 years for males and 1.9 years for females. Compared to no adjustment, a multiplicative adjustment lowers HALE estimates by 1.0 years for males and 1.4 years for females.
The differences in HALE caused by the different adjustment methods demonstrate that adjusting for comorbidity in HALE calculations is an important topic that needs more attention. More empirical research is needed to develop a more general theory as to how comorbidity influences disability.
PMCID: PMC1523368  PMID: 16606448
4.  Measuring mental health of the Dutch population: a comparison of the GHQ-12 and the MHI-5 
The objective is to compare the performance of the MHI-5 and GHQ-12, both measures of general mental health. Therefore, we studied the relationship of the GHQ-12 and MHI-5 with sociodemographic characteristics, self-reported visits to general practice and mental health care, and with diagnoses made by the general practitioner.
Data were used from the Second Dutch National Survey of General Practice, which was carried out in 104 practices. This study combines data from a representative sample of the Dutch population with data from general practice.
The agreement between the GHQ-12 and MHI-5 is only moderate. Both instruments are however similarly associated with demographic characteristics (except age), self-reported health care use, and psychological and social diagnoses in general practice.
The performance of the MHI-5 and GHQ-12 in terms of predicting mental health problems and related help seeking behaviour is similar. An advantage of the MHI-5 is that it has been widely used, not only in surveys of mental health, but also in surveys of general health and quality of life, and it is shorter. A disadvantage of the MHI-5 is that there is no cut-off point. We recommend a study to establish a valid, internationally comparable cut-off point.
PMCID: PMC428585  PMID: 15132745

Results 1-4 (4)