The most comprehensive research regarding chronic illness ever to come out of Denmark has yielded some rather unsettling results.
The study, compiled by Aalborg University (AAU), showed that far more Danes are chronically ill than previously believed – two out of three over the age of 16 have at least one chronic illness. The new results are twice as high as estimates used by the health authority, Sundhedsstyrelsen.
“The study underlines the fact that chronic illness is real – and a much bigger issue than previously thought,” said Michael Falk Hvidberg, a PhD and researcher at the Danish Centre for Healthcare Improvements (DCHI) at AAU and lead author of the new findings.
“The research provides a new supplemental tool that can be utilised in the prioritisation, planning and evaluation of financial burdens and the development of future healthcare that can handle more chronically ill.”
Unique population sample
The research is the world’s first complete mapping of an entire country’s chronic illness situation – due to Denmark’s unique healthcare registry which contains all citizens, there is no statistical insecurity with the results.
The research is thus based on the identification of 199 chronic illnesses among 4.5 million Danes over the age of 16.
The findings revealed that, on average, men suffer from 2.0 chronic illness and women have 2.4, although age has a significant impact on proceedings. 16-44-year-olds have 1.1 chronic illness, on average, while 45-74-year-olds have 2.7 and those aged 75+ have 5.3.
Other interesting aspects of the research included the most prevalent chronic illness being high blood pressure (23.3 percent), followed by high cholesterol (14.3 percent), depression (10 percent), bronchitis (9.2 percent), asthma (7.9 percent), Type-2 diabetes (5.3 percent), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (4.7 percent), arthritis in knee (3.9 percent), stomach ulcer and osteoporosis (both 3.5 percent).
Zealand struggling … but not CPH
From a geographic standpoint, the results showed the the north Jutland region had the biggest share of patients with high blood pressure, while mid-Jutland had the greatest share of patients with epilepsy, sleep disorders and ADHD.
The south Denmark region had the greatest share of patients who were psychologically ill, had dementia, and most chronic sufferers in general, while Zealand had the greatest share of patients with cancer, ulcers and obesity.
Finally, the Copenhagen region had the greatest share of patients with HIV, eating disorders and schizophrenia, but the fewest levels of chronically ill compared to the rest of the country.
The research was published in the scientific journal PharmacoEconomics Open last week.