Open Access Research article

Prevalence and socioeconomic correlates of chronic morbidity among elderly people in Kosovo: a population-based survey

Naim Jerliu12*, Ervin Toçi13, Genc Burazeri1, Naser Ramadani2 and Helmut Brand1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of International Health, School for Public Health and Primary Care (CAPHRI), Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

2 Institute of Public Health, Pristine, Kosovo

3 Institute of Public Health, Tirana, Albania

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BMC Geriatrics 2013, 13:22  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-13-22

Published: 1 March 2013



Our aim was to assess the prevalence and demographic and socioeconomic correlates of chronic morbidity in the elderly population of transitional Kosovo.


A cross-sectional study was conducted in Kosovo in 2011 including a representative sample of 1890 individuals aged ≥65 years (949 men, mean age 73 ± 6 years; 941 women, mean age 74 ± 7 years; response rate: 83%). A structured questionnaire inquired about the presence and the number of self-reported chronic diseases among elderly people, and their access to medical care. Demographic and socioeconomic data were also collected. Binary logistic regression was used to assess the association of demographic and socioeconomic characteristics with chronic conditions.


In this nationwide population-based sample in Kosovo, 42% of elderly people were unable to access medical care, of whom 88% due to unaffordable costs. About 83% of the elderly people reported at least one chronic condition (63% cardiovascular diseases), and 45% had at least two chronic diseases. In multivariable-adjusted models, factors associated with the presence of chronic conditions and/or multimorbidity were female sex, older age, self-perceived poverty and the inability to access medical care.


This study provides important evidence on the magnitude and distribution of chronic conditions among the elderly population of Kosovo. Our findings suggest that, in this sample of elderly people from Kosovo, the oldest-old (especially women) and the poor endure the vast majority of chronic conditions. These findings point to the urgent need to establish a social health insurance scheme including the marginalized segments of elderly people in this transitional country.

Aging; Chronic morbidity; Elderly; Kosovo; Multimorbidity