Physical-mental multimorbidity in children and youth: a scoping review

BMJ Open. 2021 May 20;11(5):e043124. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-043124.


Objective: Efforts to describe the current state of research are needed to advance the field of physical-mental multimorbidity (ie, the co-occurrence of at least one physical illness and at least one mental disorder) among children and youth. Our objective was to systematically explore the breadth of physical-mental multimorbidity research in children and youth and to provide an overview of existing literature topics.

Design: Scoping review.

Methods: We conducted a systematic search of four key databases: PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO and Scopus as well as a thorough scan of relevant grey literature. We included studies of any research design, published in English, referring to physical-mental multimorbidity among children and youth aged ≤18 years. Studies were screened for eligibility and data were extracted, charted and summarised narratively by research focus. Critical appraisal was employed using the modified Quality Index (QI).

Results: We included 431 studies and 2 sources of grey literature. Existing research emphasises the co-occurrence of anxiety, mood and attention disorders among children with epilepsy, asthma and allergy. Evidence consists of mostly small, observational studies that use cross-sectional data. The average QI score across applicable studies was 9.1 (SD=1.8).

Conclusions: There is a pressing need for more robust research within the field of child physical-mental multimorbidity.

Keywords: allergy; asthma; child & adolescent psychiatry; epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Multimorbidity*
  • Psychotic Disorders*

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.12jm63xw0