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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


FOLB, N et al. Multimorbidity, control and treatment of non-communicable diseases among primary healthcare attenders in the Western Cape, South Africa. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2015, vol.105, n.8, pp.642-647. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND: South Africa (SA) is facing a heavy burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Few studies address multimorbidity, control and treatment of NCDs in patients attending primary healthcare (PHC) clinics. OBJECTIVES: To describe multimorbidity, related risk factors, disease severity and treatment status of patients with four important NCDs attending public sector PHC clinics in two districts in SA. METHODS: A cross-sectional sample of patients completed baseline data collection for a randomised controlled trial of a health systems intervention. The study population comprised adults attending PHC clinics in the Eden and Overberg districts of the Western Cape in 2011. Four subgroups of patients were identified: hypertension, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and depression. A total of 4 393 participants enrolled from 38 clinics completed a baseline structured questionnaire and had measurements taken. Prescription data were recorded. RESULTS: Of participants with hypertension, diabetes, respiratory disease and depression, 80%, 92%, 88% and 80%, respectively, had at least one of the other three conditions. There were low levels of control and treatment: 59% of participants with hypertension had a blood pressure >140/90 mmHg, the mean haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) value in participants with diabetes was 9%, 12% of participants in the depression group were prescribed an antidepressant at a therapeutic dose, and 48% of respiratory participants were prescribed a β2-agonist and 34% an inhaled corticosteroid. CONCLUSION: Considerable multimorbidity and unmet treatment needs exist among patients with NCDs attending public sector PHC clinics. Improved strategies are required for diagnosing and managing NCDs in this sector.

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