Health services have failed to respond to the pressures of multimorbidity. Improved measures of multimorbidity are needed for conducting research, planning services and allocating resources.
We modelled the association between 37 morbidities and 3 key outcomes (primary care consultations, unplanned hospital admission, death) at 1 and 5 years. We extracted development (n = 300 000) and validation (n = 150 000) samples from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink. We constructed a general-outcome multimorbidity score by averaging the standardized weights of the separate outcome scores. We compared performance with the Charlson Comorbidity Index.
Models that included all 37 conditions were acceptable predictors of general practitioner consultations (C-index 0.732, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.731–0.734), unplanned hospital admission (C-index 0.742, 95% CI 0.737–0.747) and death at 1 year (C-index 0.912, 95% CI 0.905–0.918). Models reduced to the 20 conditions with the greatest combined prevalence/weight showed similar predictive ability (C-indices 0.727, 95% CI 0.725–0.728; 0.738, 95% CI 0.732–0.743; and 0.910, 95% CI 0.904–0.917, respectively). They also predicted 5-year outcomes similarly for consultations and death (C-indices 0.735, 95% CI 0.734–0.736, and 0.889, 95% CI 0.885–0.892, respectively) but performed less well for admissions (C-index 0.708, 95% CI 0.705–0.712). The performance of the general-outcome score was similar to that of the outcome-specific models. These models performed significantly better than those based on the Charlson Comorbidity Index for consultations (C-index 0.691, 95% CI 0.690–0.693) and admissions (C-index 0.703, 95% CI 0.697–0.709) and similarly for mortality (C-index 0.907, 95% CI 0.900–0.914).
The Cambridge Multimorbidity Score is robust and can be either tailored or not tailored to specific health outcomes. It will be valuable to those planning clinical services, policymakers allocating resources and researchers seeking to account for the effect of multimorbidity.
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