Exploring the relationship between multi-morbidity, resilience and social connectedness across the lifecourse

Health (London). 2014 May;18(3):302-18. doi: 10.1177/1363459313497609. Epub 2013 Aug 28.


Multi-morbidity is receiving considerable attention in public policy, health and social care. From the perspective of the individual, multi-morbidity is a more complex experience than solely having a clinical diagnosis. In this article, we will argue that understanding multi-morbidity can be facilitated by considering the relationship between adversity (in this case multi-morbidity), resilience and social connectedness within a life course framework. This provides an approach that can capture the dynamics of social relationships, social connectedness and the fluctuations in the experience of multi-morbidity. We draw on a qualitative study of 17 people who have multiple conditions, but consider themselves as being able to maintain a sense of identity and self over time and in the face of adversity. From their accounts, a more varied picture emerges of living with multi-morbidity. This then depicts a more realistic representation of how each person shapes their multi-morbidity and resilient responses within their own social context, which can help to formulate more effective ways of supporting them.

Keywords: life course perspective; multi-morbidity; resilience; social connectedness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Comorbidity
  • England
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology
  • Osteoarthritis / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Social Support*