Development and validation of a new prognostic index for mortality risk in multimorbid adults

PLoS One. 2022 Aug 5;17(8):e0271923. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0271923. eCollection 2022.


Context: Multimorbidity is highly prevalent among older adults and associated with a high mortality. Prediction of mortality in multimorbid people would be clinically useful but there is no mortality risk index designed for this population. Our objective was therefore to develop and internally validate a 1-year mortality prognostic index for older multimorbid adults.

Methods: We analysed data of the OPERAM cohort study in Bern, Switzerland, including 822 adults aged 70 years or more with multimorbidity (3 or more chronic medical conditions) and polypharmacy (use of 5 drugs or more for >30 days). Time to all-cause mortality was assessed up to 1 year of follow-up. We performed a parametric Weibull regression model with backward stepwise selection to identify mortality risk predictors. The model was internally validated and optimism corrected using bootstrapping techniques. We derived a point-based risk score from the regression coefficients. Calibration and discrimination were assessed by the calibration slope and C statistic.

Results: 805 participants were included in the analysis. During 1-year of follow-up, 158 participants (20%) had died. Age, Charlson-Comorbidity-Index, number of drugs, body mass index, number of hospitalizations, Barthel-Index (functional impairment), and nursing home residency were predictors of 1-year mortality in a multivariable model. Using these variables, the 1-year probability of dying could be predicted with an optimism-corrected C statistic of 0.70. The optimism-corrected calibration slope was 0.93. Based on the derived point-based risk score to predict mortality risk, 7% of the patients classified at low-risk of mortality, 19% at moderate-risk, and 37% at high-risk died after one year of follow-up. A simpler mortality score, without the Charlson-Comorbidity-Index and Barthel-Index, showed reduced discriminative power (optimism-corrected C statistic: 0.59) compared to the full score.

Conclusion: We developed and internally validated a mortality risk index including for the first-time specific predictors for multimorbid adults. This new 1-year mortality prediction point-based score allowed to classify multimorbid older patients into three categories of increasing risk of mortality. Further validation of the score among various populations of multimorbid patients is needed before its implementation into practice.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Multimorbidity*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors

Grant support

This work was supported by Swiss National Science Foundation grants (320030_188549/01 to AC; 325130_204361 to CDG; This work is part of the project “OPERAM: OPtimising thERapy to prevent Avoidable hospital admissions in the Multimorbid elderly” supported by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the grant agreement No 6342388 (, and by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) under contract number 15.0137 ( The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the EC and the Swiss government. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.