From chronic conditions to relevance in multimorbidity: a four-step study in family medicine

Fam Pract. 2016 Aug;33(4):439-44. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmw030. Epub 2016 May 6.


Background: Chronic conditions and multimorbidity (MM) are major concerns in family medicine (FM).

Objectives: Based on the International Classification of Primary Care, Second Edition (ICPC-2), this study aimed to list (i)the chronic conditions and (ii)those most relevant to MM in FM.

Methods: A panel of FM experts used a four-step process to identify chronic conditions among ICPC-2 items and list chronic conditions most relevant in MM. They also evaluated the importance of eight criteria, previously identified in the literature, for characterizing chronic conditions. Step one involved a focus group of five experts. Steps two, three and four involved 10, 25 and 25 experts, respectively. They rated ICPC-2 items via an online questionnaire using a Likert scale from 1 (never chronic/irrelevant in MM) to 9 (always chronic/always relevant in MM). A median value cut-off was used to evaluate appropriateness of each item and the inter-percentile range adjusted for symmetry to determine the agreement/disagreement between experts. In parallel, in steps two and three, experts rated the importance of eight criteria to characterize chronic conditions, using a Likert scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 9 (strongly agree).

Results: Of the ICPC-2's 686 items, experts identified 139 chronic conditions, of which 75 were deemed most relevant in the context of MM. Four of the eight criteria were retained as important to define chronic conditions: duration, sequelae, recurrence/pattern and the diagnosis itself.

Conclusion: Using this list of 75 chronic conditions most relevant in the context of MM should enhance the validity of studies of MM in FM.

Keywords: Chronic condition; ICPC-2; RAND; Switzerland.; family medicine; multimorbidity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease / classification*
  • Expert Testimony
  • Family Practice / methods
  • Family Practice / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multimorbidity
  • Primary Health Care / standards*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Switzerland