Multimorbidity patterns and their relationships with incident disability and frailty among older adults in Taiwan: A 16-year, population-based cohort study

Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2022 Jul-Aug;101:104688. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2022.104688. Epub 2022 Mar 20.


Background: Multimorbidity has negative impacts on the health outcomes of older adults. Previous research has discovered different patterns of multimorbidity. However, evidence is scarce for associations between multimorbidity patterns and disability/frailty, especially evidence from longitudinal studies. This study aimed to explore the relationship between multimorbidity patterns and disability/frailty among older adults in Taiwan.

Methods: This population-based cohort study used data from the Taiwan Longitudinal Study on Aging. It included 2,194 older adults (age >50 years) who were followed from 1996 to 2011. The participants' multimorbidity patterns in 1996 were determined by latent class analysis; their incident disability and frailty were ascertained in 2011. Multivariate logistic regression was used to analyze the relationship between multimorbidity patterns and disability/frailty.

Results: In 1996, the participants' average age was 62 years. Four multimorbidity patterns were discovered through latent class analysis, as follows: (1) Cardiometabolic group (n = 222), (2) Arthritis-cataract group (n = 112), (3) Multimorbidity group (n = 189), and (4) Relatively healthy group (n = 1671). After adjusting for age, sex, social participation, alcohol consumption, self-rated health, admission in the past year, and depression, participants in the Cardiometabolic group had a greater risk of incident disability (odds ratio: 1.78; 95% confidence interval: 1.26-2.52), compared with the Relatively healthy group. No statistically significant relationships were found between multimorbidity patterns and frailty. Subgroup analysis showed that females in the Cardiometabolic and Multimorbidity groups had greater risks of developing disability.

Conclusion: This 16-year, population-based cohort study showed that distinct multimorbidity patterns among older adults in Taiwan were associated with incident disability during later life but were not related to frailty.

Keywords: Disability; Frailty; Multimorbidity patterns; Older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Frailty* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Multimorbidity
  • Taiwan / epidemiology