Multimorbidity: a priority for global health research

The Academy of Medical Sciences is currently undertaking a project to explore the issue of multimorbidity as an international health challenge.


Throughout the world, as life expectancy increases, the population incidence of non-communicable diseases is also increasing. Further, communicable diseases continue to affect millions of people every year. Together, all of these factors mean that multimorbidity has become, and will increasingly be, an international health challenge.

However, currently there is no commonly used framework for defining or more widely understanding multimorbidity. Further, most health related research is currently focused on the prevention and management of disorders in isolation. Consequently, it is difficult to compile a coherent body of research in this area or develop evidence-based strategies for use in healthcare systems.

In order to address the international challenge of multimorbidity, we must understand the problem better.

The Academy has therefore established a working group to further examine the issue of multimorbidity in an international context. The working group, Chaired by Professor Stephen MacMahon FMedSci, will do this by aiming to:


  1. How multimorbidity has been defined within research to date, and how the existing intellectual framework might impact future progress within the field.
  2. The existing evidence on the prevalence, burden and determinants of multimorbidity in populations throughout the world, including in high, middle, and low income countries.
  3. The existing evidence about the most appropriate prevention and treatment strategies among individuals with multimorbidity.

Make recommendations about the implications for future medical research, by:

  1. Identifying ways to think about multimorbidity, potentially through an improved intellectual framework or greater consistency in the research methods used.
  2. Identifying the most significant gaps in the existing evidence about multimorbidity and the associated research priorities, which might include prevalence, burden, determinants, prevention, management and healthcare delivery strategies.

The output of the project will be a report that will make recommendations to key UK and international stakeholders.

For additional information about the Working Group members and project activities - including the details of a previous related roundtable event - please see the tabs at the top of this page. Should you have any questions about the project that are not addressed on this page, please do not hesitate to contact the Secretariat.

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