Development and Validation of a Nordic Multimorbidity Index Based on Hospital Diagnoses and Filled Prescriptions

Clin Epidemiol. 2022 Apr 27;14:567-579. doi: 10.2147/CLEP.S353398. eCollection 2022.


Purpose: To develop the Nordic Multimorbidity Index (NMI), a multimorbidity measure specifically suited to the Nordic health and administrative registry data based on current diagnosis, treatment, and coding practices.

Methods: The NMI was developed to predict 5-year mortality in a population-based cohort of randomly sampled Danish residents aged ≥40 years (n = 425,087) followed from 2013 to 2018. Included predictors were selected from hospital diagnoses and filled drug prescriptions based on a combination of subject matter knowledge and a data-driven approach using backwards elimination. The performance of the NMI was assessed in a temporal validation cohort of Danish residents followed from 2007 to 2012 and in six cohorts of new users of selected drugs. The discriminative performance of the NMI, Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) and the Elixhauser Comorbidity Index (ECI) was assessed using the c-statistic from logistic regression models with 5-year mortality as dependent variable and the multimorbidity index score, age, and sex as independent variables.

Results: The NMI included 50 predictors. In the temporal validation cohort, the c-statistic of the NMI (0.887, 95% CI 0.883-0.890) exceeded that of the CCI (0.871, 95% CI 0.868-0.874) and ECI (0.866, 95% CI 0.863-0.870). In all new user cohorts, the NMI outperformed the other indices with c-statistics ranging from 0.781 (95% CI 0.779-0.784) to 0.838 (95% CI 0.834-0.842).

Conclusion: The NMI predicted 5-year mortality in a general Danish population and six cohorts of new users of selected drugs and was superior to the CCI and ECI. The NMI could be preferred over these indices to quantify the level of multimorbidity for, eg, descriptive purposes or confounding control. The NMI should be validated in other patient populations and other Nordic countries.

Keywords: comorbidity; multimorbidity; pharmacoepidemiology; prognosis; risk score.

Grant support

KBK was funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark (grant 8020-00176B) and the Research Fund of the Region of Southern Denmark (grant 17/33580).