Improving the experiences and health of people with multimorbidity: exploratory research with policymakers and information providers on comorbid arthritis

Aust J Prim Health. 2014;20(2):188-96. doi: 10.1071/PY12083.


Multimorbidity has emerged as a complex health issue with the burden falling predominantly on patients, families and the primary health care sector. Evidence-informed communication and participation, activities informed by evidence and people's views and experiences, has the potential to improve health outcomes for people with multimorbidity. In recognition of their role in shaping future actions, we conducted focus groups with policymakers and information providers. The aim of this article is to report on the range and impacts of communication problems in multimorbidity, and identify points of intervention. To facilitate and focus dialogue, comorbid arthritis was selected as the case example. Two focus groups were held: one with policymakers and the other with health information providers. Participants were asked to discuss communication problems and possibilities relevant to multimorbidity, using examples from comorbid arthritis where relevant. Participants highlighted three main areas on which to focus future efforts to improve the health outcomes and experiences of people with multimorbidity: (1) make explicit the problems of multimorbidity and communication; (2) recognise that both multimorbidity and communication issues are compounding factors; and (3) consider actions at policy, service, community and individual levels. Examining multimorbidity through the lens of communication issues identified the significant burden across different domains of the health system. The focus on communication may facilitate a cross-disease perspective to emerge and assist with policy development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis / epidemiology
  • Arthritis / therapy*
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cost of Illness
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / standards
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Communication / methods*
  • Health Communication / standards
  • Health Policy / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Patient-Centered Care / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Patient-Centered Care / methods
  • Patient-Centered Care / standards
  • Primary Health Care / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Primary Health Care / standards