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More illness and less disease? A 20-year perspective on chronic disease and medication.

Journal article
Authors Bertil Hagström
Bengt Mattsson
Anders Wimo
Ronny K Gunnarsson
Published in Scandinavian journal of public health
Volume 34
Issue 6
Pages 584-8
ISSN 1403-4948
Publication year 2006
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Pages 584-8
Language en
Keywords chronic disease; cost of illness; drugs and stress; illness; lifestyle; risk factors; patient compliance; prevention; psychological; questionnaires; stationary population
Subject categories Family Medicine, Medical and Health Sciences


BACKGROUND: The implication of medication is that a drug is given against an illness. Over the last few decades an expanding number of drugs have appeared that focus on reducing risk factors and lifestyle conditions. Aims: To investigate the apprehension in respect of chronic disease among the working population in a Swedish community in 2000 compared with 1980. METHODS: In 1980 and 2000 an analogous questionnaire assessing chronic diseases and medication was mailed to 250 randomly selected persons from a local population between 25 and 70 years of age. RESULTS: Some 80% of the persons (n = 201) replied in 1980 and 78% (n = 195) in 2000. Individuals declaring a chronic disease increased from 23% (46/201) in 1980 to 39.5% in 2000 (p = 0.0005). Corresponding figures for men were 20.6% (20/97) in 1980 and 40.8% (40/98) in 2000 (p = 0,004) and for women 25.0% (26/104) in 1980 and 38.1% (37/97) in 2000 (p = 0.064). Persons who regularly see a doctor increased from 13% to 26% (p = 0.002) and the use of drugs for chronic diseases increased from 19% to 33% (p = 0.002). In 2000 an average of 2.3 drugs per person were used among those with a chronic disease, an increase of 53% since 1980. CONCLUSION: Stated chronic diseases and use of drugs for such diseases increased greatly between1980 and 2000. Prescribing drugs for a "risk" with no apparent illness may be confused with the remedy for an illness.

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