Medical Journal of Malaysia

MJM, Vol 70 Supplement 1 September 2015

Morbidity patterns among the elderly in Malaysia: A 15-year trend

Noor Ani Ahmad, S Maria Awaluddin, Balkish Mahadir Naidu, Rajini Sooryanarayana, Noraida Mohd Kasim, Rahama Samad, Muslimah Yusof, Chan Ying Ying, Norhafizah Sahril, Mohammad Aznuddin Abd Razak


Introduction: An increasing elderly population is associated with higher morbidity and more demands on health care services. This paper describes the trends in morbidities and health service utilisation among elderly aged 60 years and older in a 15-year span.

Method: Data from three cross-sectional nation-wide community-based surveys, the National Health and Morbidity Survey, which were conducted in 1996, 2006 and 2011, were analysed. The surveys used multi-stage stratified sampling design involving all residents, irrespective of age. For the purpose of this paper, respondents aged 60 years and older were selected for further analysis. Analysis was done using complex sample analysis to ensure sample weight and design effect were accounted for.

Results: Overall, the prevalence of diabetes among the elderly increased from 1996 to 2006 and 2011 (14.8%, 23.6% and 34.4%, respectively). For hypertension, the prevalence increased from 1996 to 2006, then lowered slightly in 2011, while hypercholesterolemia had reduced slightly in 2006 as compared to 1996; then increased from 2006 to 2011. Obesity in elderly increased from 1996 to 2011. Current smokers decreased from 1996 to 2006 and 2011 (27.1%, 18.7% and 15.2%, respectively), while alcohol consumption did not show an obvious difference from 2006 to 2011. There was also no obvious difference in health service utilisation; outpatient attendance or hospital admission, from 1996 to 2011. 

Conclusion: The prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and obesity among elderly showed an increasing trend from 1996 to 2011. However, no obvious trend with utilisation of health services was noted. In line with aging population in Malaysia, it is vital for policy makers to plan for adequate resources in order to provide comprehensive and holistic health services for elderly in Malaysia.

Keywords: elderly, trends, morbidities, survey