Systematic review and synthesis of physical and mental health multimorbidity: Discrete categories or continua?

L. Busija, K. Lim, K. Sanders, M. McCabe

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Background: Multimorbidity is the presence of two or more chronic conditions within the same person and is a growing challenge for health professionals worldwide due to the absence of reliable data on which conditions are most likely to occur together. This systematic review synthesised patterns of multimorbidity of physical and mental health conditions reported in the published literature to date with the aim of identifying stable and replicable profiles.
Methods: We searched six electronic databases (Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Scopus, Web of Science) for articles reporting multimorbidity profiles. Studies that described disease counts or only assessed bivariate associations between diseases were excluded. The profiles identified in studies were synthesised using multidimensional scaling, stratified by analysis type.
Findings: 51 studies met inclusion criteria. The statistical analyses used to identify multimorbidity profiles were exploratory factor analysis, cluster analysis (CA) of diseases, CA of people, and latent class analysis. The discernible groupings of multimorbidity took the form of both discrete categories and continuous dimensions. Mental health conditions grouped along identifiable continua in the synthesised results of all four methods, with anxiety and depression at the one end of the continuum and bipolar and psychotic disorders at the opposite end. Cardio-metabolic conditions also formed discernible groupings in the results of all four statistical methods.
Discussion: The findings that mental health conditions tend to consistently group along a discernible axis indicates that what is currently thought of as discrete mental health disorders might be a manifestation of the same underlying pathology of varying severity.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventAnnual Conference of the European Health Psychology Society (EHPS 2019) - Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik Hotel, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Duration: 3 Sep 20197 Sep 2019
Conference number: 33rd


ConferenceAnnual Conference of the European Health Psychology Society (EHPS 2019)
Abbreviated titleEHPS 2019
OtherIndividuals and Professionals: Cooperation to Health
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