Development of a multimorbidity index: Impact on quality of life using a rheumatoid arthritis cohort

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2015 Oct;45(2):167-73. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2015.06.010. Epub 2015 Jun 19.


Objective: To develop a multimorbidity index (MMI) based on health-related quality of life (HRQol).

Methods: The index was developed in an observational RA cohort. In all, 40 morbidities recommended as core were identified using ICD-9 codes. MMIs of two types were calculated: one by enumerating morbidities (MMI.count) and the other by weighting morbidities based on their association with HRQol as assessed by EQ-5D in multiple linear regression analysis (using β-coefficients; MMI.weight). MMIs were compared to the Charlson comorbidity index (CCI) and externally validated in an international RA cohort (COMORA Study).

Results: In all, 544 out of 876 patients were multimorbid. MMI.count was in the range 1-16 (median = 2) and MMI.weight in the range 0-38 (median = 1). Both indices were more strongly associated with EQ-5D than CCI (Spearman: MMI.count = -0.20, MMI.weight = -0.26, and CCI = -0.10; p < 0.01). R(2) obtained by linear regression using EQ-5D as a dependent variable and various indices as independent variables, adjusted for age and gender, was the highest for MMI (R(2): MMI.count = 0.05, MMI.weight = 0.11, and CCI = 0.02). When accounting for clinical disease activity index (CDAI) R(2) increased: MMI.count = 0.18, MMI.weight = 0.22, and CCI = 0.17, still showing higher values of MMI compared with CCI. External validation in different RA cohorts (COMORA, n = 3864) showed good performance of both indices (linear regression including age, gender, and disease activity R(2) = 0.30 for both MMIs).

Conclusion: In our cohort, MMI based on EQ-5D performed better than did CCI. Findings were reproducible in another large RA cohort. Not much improvement was gained by weighting; therefore a simple counted index could be useful to control for the effect of multimorbidity on patient's overall well-being.

Keywords: Comorbidity; Health-related quality of life; Multimorbidity; Rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires