Background: Multimorbidity is associated with poor quality of life, polypharmacy, health care costs and mortality, with those affected potentially benefitting from a healthy lifestyle. We assessed a comprehensive set of lifestyle factors in relation to multimorbidity with major chronic diseases.
Methods: This cross-sectional study utilised baseline data for adults from the prospective Lifelines Cohort in the north of the Netherlands (N = 79,345). We defined multimorbidity as the coexistence of two or more chronic diseases (i.e. cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease, type 2 diabetes) and evaluated factors in six lifestyle domains (nutrition, physical (in)activity, substance abuse, sleep, stress, relationships) among groups by the number of chronic diseases (≥2, 1, 0). Multinomial logistic regression models were created, adjusted for appropriate confounders, and odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) were reported.
Results: 3,712 participants had multimorbidity (4.7%, age 53.5 ± 12.5 years), and this group tended to have less healthy lifestyles. Compared to those without chronic diseases, those with multimorbidity reported physical inactivity more often (OR, 1.15; 95%CI, 1.06–1.25; not significant for one condition), chronic stress (OR, 2.14; 95%CI, 1.92–2.38) and inadequate sleep (OR, 1.70; 95%CI, 1.41–2.06); as expected, they more often watched television (OR, 1.70; 95%CI, 1.42–2.04) and currently smoked (OR, 1.91; 95%CI, 1.73–2.11), but they also had lower alcohol intakes (OR, 0.66; 95%CI, 0.59–0.74).
Conclusions: Chronic stress and poor sleep, in addition to physical inactivity and smoking, are lifestyle factors of great concern in patients with multimorbidity.