Life-course socioeconomic conditions, multimorbidity and polypharmacy in older adults: A retrospective cohort study.

Jungo, Katharina Tabea; Cheval, Boris; Sieber, Stefan; Antonia van der Linden, Bernadette Wilhelmina; Ihle, Andreas; Carmeli, Cristian; Chiolero, Arnaud; Streit, Sven; Cullati, Stéphane (2022). Life-course socioeconomic conditions, multimorbidity and polypharmacy in older adults: A retrospective cohort study. PLoS ONE, 17(8), e0271298. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0271298

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Socioeconomic conditions across the life course may contribute to differences in multimorbidity and polypharmacy in old age. However, whether the risk of multimorbidity changes during ageing and whether life-course socioeconomic conditions are associated with polypharmacy remain unclear. We investigated whether disadvantaged childhood socioeconomic conditions (CSCs) predict increased odds of multimorbidity and polypharmacy in older adults, whether CSCs remain associated when adjusting for adulthood socioeconomic conditions (ACSs), and whether CSCs and ACSs are associated cumulatively over the life course. We used data for 31,432 participants (multimorbidity cohort, mean [SD] age 66·2[9] years), and 21,794 participants (polypharmacy cohort, mean age 69·0[8.9] years) from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (age range 50-96 years). We used mixed-effects logistic regression to assess the associations of CSCs, ASCs, and a life-course socioeconomic conditions score (0-8; 8, most advantaged) with multimorbidity (≥2 chronic conditions) and polypharmacy (≥5 drugs taken daily). We found an association between CSCs and multimorbidity (reference: most disadvantaged; disadvantaged: odds ratio (OR) = 0·79, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0·70-0·90; middle: OR = 0·60; 95%CI 0·53-0·68; advantaged: OR = 0·52, 95%CI 0·45-0·60, most advantaged: OR = 0·40, 95%CI 0·34-0·48) but not polypharmacy. This multimorbidity association was attenuated but remained significant after adjusting for ASCs. The life-course socioeconomic conditions score was associated with multimorbidity and polypharmacy. We did not find an association between CSCs, life-course socioeconomic conditions, and change in odds of multimorbidity and polypharmacy with ageing. Exposure to disadvantaged socioeconomic conditions in childhood or over the entire life-course could predict multimorbidity in older age.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Medical Education > Institute of General Practice and Primary Care (BIHAM)

UniBE Contributor:

Jungo, Katharina Tabea, Chiolero, Arnaud, Streit, Sven


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services




Public Library of Science


[4] Swiss National Science Foundation




Pubmed Import

Date Deposited:

03 Aug 2022 12:00

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 16:22

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