Background. People with severe or profound intellectual and motor disabilities (SPIMD) experience multimorbidity and have complex health needs. Multimorbidity increases mortality, decreases functioning, and negatively influences quality of life. Information regarding patterns of multimorbidity in people with SPIMD may lead to proactive prevention, specifically detection and treatment of physical health problems at an early stage and prevention of secondary complications.
Aim: The aim of this study was to explore patterns of multimorbidity in individuals with SPIMD.
Methods and procedures: Data from medical records and care plans on reported physical health problems of 99 adults with SPIMD were analysed. To explore the co-occurrence of physical health problems, cross tabulations and a 5-set Venn Diagram were used.
Outcomes and results: The most common combination of two physical health problems comprise the most prevalent physical health problems, which included visual impairment, constipation, epilepsy, spasticity, and scoliosis. These five issues occurred as a multimorbidity combination in 37% of the participants. In 56% of the participants a multimorbidity combination of four health problems emerged, namely constipation, visual impairment, epilepsy, and spasticity.
Conclusions and implications: People experiencing SPIMD have interrelated health problems. As a consequence, a broad variety of potential interactions between physical health problems and their treatments may occur. Identifying multimorbidity patterns can provide guidance for accurate monitoring of persistent health problems and, early detection of secondary complications. However, the results require confirmation with larger samples in further studies.