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Future of Multimorbidity Research: How Should Understanding of Multimorbidity Inform Health System Design?

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Abstract

Many people living with chronic conditions have multiple chronic conditions. Multimorbidity is defined here as the co-existence of two or more chronic conditions, where one is not necessarily more central than the others. Multimorbidity affects quality of life, ability to work and employability, disability and mortality. Currently, clinicians have limited guidance or evidence as to how to approach care decisions for such patients. Understanding how to best care and design the health system for patients with multimorbidity may lead to improvements in quality of life, utilization of healthcare, safety, morbidity and mortality. The objective of this paper is to review the implications of multimorbidity for the design of health system and to understand the research needs for this population. The consideration of people with multimorbidity is essential in the design and evaluation of health systems. Fundamentally, people with multimorbidity should receive a patient — and family-centered approach to care throughout the health system, and understanding how to deliver this type of care in effective and efficient ways is an enormous challenge, and opportunity, for clinicians, researchers, and policy makers today.

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Correspondence to Cynthia M. Boyd MD, MPH.

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Recommended Citation: Boyd CM, Fortin M. Future of Multimorbidity Research: How Should Understanding of Multimorbidity Inform Health System Design? Public Health Reviews. 2010;32:451–74.

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Key words

  • Multimorbidity
  • aging
  • chronic conditions
  • health system
  • healthcare
  • comorbidity