Type of Multimorbidity and Patient-Doctor Communication and Trust among Elderly Medicare Beneficiaries

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Background. Effective communication and high trust with doctor are important to reduce the burden of multimorbidity in the rapidly aging population of the US. However, the association of multimorbidity with patient-doctor communication and trust is unknown. Objective. We examined the relationship between multimorbidity and patient-doctor communication and trust among the elderly. Method. We used the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (2012) to analyze the association between multimorbidity and patient-doctor communication and trust with multivariable logistic regressions that controlled for patient's sociodemographic characteristics, health status, and satisfaction with care. Results. Most elderly beneficiaries reported effective communication (87.5–97.5%) and high trust (95.4–99.1%) with their doctors. The elderly with chronic physical and mental conditions were less likely than those with only physical conditions to report effective communication with their doctor (Adjusted Odds Ratio [95% Confidence Interval] = 0.80 [0.68, 0.96]). Multimorbidity did not have a significant association with patient-doctor trust. Conclusions. Elderly beneficiaries had high trust in their doctors, which was not affected by the presence of multimorbidity. Elderly individuals who had a mental condition in addition to physical conditions were more likely to report ineffective communication. Programs to improve patient-doctor communication with patients having cooccurring chronic physical and mental health conditions may be needed.