Morbidity Pattern among the Elderly Population in a Nigerian Tertiary Health Care Institution: Analysis of a retrospective study

  • IS Abdulraheem Department of Epidemiology & Community Health College of Medicine, University of Ilorin
  • AG Abdulrahman
Keywords: Pattern, Morbidity, Elderly, Nigeria, Tertiary health care Institution


Chronic disease is a major component of the burden of illness among the geriatric age group. A retrospective study of the morbidity profiles among the elderly and an assessment of the related factors are required not only to plan an appropriate geriatric health care service but also to improve the delivery of health care to the elderly and to estimate the cost of that care. To document the pattern of morbidity and healthcare utilization among hospital elderly patients. The present study also sought to determine the relationships between morbidity and socio-demographic and health characteristics in Nigerian elderly hospital attendees at University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital. A hospital based retrospective study was undertaken between January 2000 to December 2005. Hospital case folders of all patients 60 years and above were selected and studied. Among 10,852 elderly persons studied, the mean number of morbidities per person in this sample of elderly Nigerian Hospital patients was 1.83 ± 1.56 (mean ± standard deviation); women had a significantly higher mean number of morbidities (1.97 ± 1.57) than did men (1.52 ± 1.36). Joint pain and backache (Lumbago) were the most common morbidities in 2675 (24.6%), followed by osteoporosis (15%), hypertension (18.9%), decreased visual acuity due to cataract and refractive errors in 1229 (61.2%). Two hundred and ninety-four (14.6%) were registered as blind, seventy-three (6.7%) as deaf while 236 (2.2%) were diagnosed with difficulties in hearing (49.6% men and 50.4% women.).Other morbidities were diabetes mellitus (1711 or 15.8%), gastritis/gastric ulcer (1178 or 11.1%), liver cirrhosis (16.7%) and hepatoma (9.5%). Prostatic diseases accounted for 13.5% of male diseases while Asthma occurred in 5.4% of all morbidity episodes. . Nutritional status indicated a relatively high prevalence (42.6%) of malnutrition. Women reported more health problems than men. There is a tendency for the elderly to seek assistance from relations, established clinics and other health facilities for their health problems. Traditional healers were also consulted for health problems. Morbidity was significantly associated with gender, employment, household income, alcohol intake, and cigarette smoking. The average morbidity per person was 1.83 ± 1.56. This highlights the need for regular periodic medical examination and treatment at the primary and secondary care levels, which will help prevent further deterioration of their health status. There is presently no health programme in the study area that aimed at the elderly. Some of the diseases and conditions found in this study could easily be identified and treated at the primary and secondary health care levels through an organized geriatric health care programme. The findings from this study will improve understanding of the patterns of health problems among Nigerian elderly and also contribute to the development of appropriate interventions.

Keywords: Pattern; Morbidity; Elderly; Nigeria, Tertiary health care Institution

Nigerian Medical Practitioner Vol. 54 (2) 2008: pp. 32-36

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eISSN: 0189-0964