The purpose of this study is to explore the associations between polypharmacy and multimorbidity using conventional and novel measures of polypharmacy. In this cross-sectional study, data on fee-for-service (FFS) Medicaid enrollees with at least 1 chronic condition and aged 18-64 years (N = 38,329) were derived from the 2010 Medicaid Analytic eXtract (MAX) files of Maryland and West Virginia. Polypharmacy, by the authors' novel definition, was determined as simultaneous use of ≥5 drugs for a consecutive period of 60 days. Multimorbidity was defined as having ≥2 chronic conditions based on the US Department of Health and Human Services framework. The association between multimorbidity and polypharmacy was examined with chi-square tests and logistic regression. Polypharmacy prevalence was estimated at 50.9% using the novel definition, as compared to 16.7% and 64.9% for the 2 commonly used conventional measures, respectively. For all 3 definitions, individuals with multimorbidity were more likely to have polypharmacy than those without multimorbidity (P < 0.001). The authors also consistently found, using all definitions, that those who were older, female, white, and eligible for Medicaid because of cash assistance were more likely to have polypharmacy (all P < 0.001). Polypharmacy was highly prevalent and significantly associated with multimorbidity among Medicaid FFS enrollees irrespective of the definitions used. The new measure may provide a more comprehensive and accurate estimation of polypharmacy than the conventional measures. These findings suggest the need for a paradigm shift from disease-specific care to patient-centered collaborative care to manage patients with multimorbidity and polypharmacy.
- multiple chronic conditions