Original Research

Illness perception amongst adults with multimorbidity at primary care clinics in Southwest Nigeria

Babajide J. Ogunrinde, Adedotun A. Adetunji, Sufiyan A. Muyibi, Joshua O. Akinyemi
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 13, No 1 | a2738 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v13i1.2738 | © 2021 Babajide J. Ogunrinde, Adedotun Adetunji, Muyibi Sufiyan, Joshua O. Akinyemi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 August 2020 | Published: 12 August 2021

About the author(s)

Babajide J. Ogunrinde, Department of Family Medicine, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
Adedotun A. Adetunji, Department of Family Medicine, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
Sufiyan A. Muyibi, Department of Family Medicine, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
Joshua O. Akinyemi, Department of Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria


Background: Although shreds of evidence are emerging to show the role of illness perceptions in the health outcomes of patients, most of the previous studies have been on single chronic conditions.

Aim: To assess the illness perceptions and the associated factors amongst adults with multimorbidity.

Setting: General outpatient clinics of the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted amongst a systematic sample of 403 adults with multimorbidity. Data on illness perception and other variables were collected using interviewer-administered questionnaires. Descriptive statistics, chi-square test, t-test and analysis of variance were employed for analyses.

Results: The age of the participants ranged from 18 to 97 years, with a mean of 60.9 years (standard deviation [s.d.] ± 14.3 years). The majority of participants (57.3%) were women. Ninety-four (23.3%) respondents had only two morbid conditions, whilst 31.2% had at least four morbid conditions. Prioritisation sub-domain of illness perception recorded the highest score (mean = 2.0, s.d. ± 0.8), whilst the treatment burden sub-domain was the lowest (mean = 0.8, s.d. ± 0.7). A significant bivariate relationship was observed between emotional representation (p = 0.001), prioritisation (p = 0.013) and causal relationship (p = 0.013) sub-domains and age group of study participants. Emotional burden associated with illnesses declined as educational level increased (p = 0.039).

Conclusion: Patient’s characteristics such as age, education and the number of morbidities are associated with illness perception. Healthcare providers should pay attention to these factors whilst addressing illness perception as a way to achieve better clinical outcomes.


multimorbidity; illness perception; socio-demographic characteristics; Nigeria; primary care; chronic disease


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