Multimorbidity and quality of life at mid-life: A systematic review of general population studies

Jeeva Kanesarajah, Michael Waller, Jennifer A. Whitty, Gita D. Mishra

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)
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There is substantial multimorbidity at mid-life but little is known about the strength of evidence on multimorbidity and health-related quality of life (HrQoL) at mid-life. This review addresses this gap, focusing on studies of the general population. PubMed, Web of Science, Embase and APA PsycNET databases were screened on 6 March 2017 for original research on multimorbidity and HrQoL in adults aged 40-65 years from the general population. Studies focused on index conditions, using single-item HrQoL measures, unlikely to represent the general population (e.g. primary care), and papers that were not in the English language were excluded. A narrative synthesis was presented due to heterogeneity in the measurement of multimorbidity. Of the 2557 articles, 83 underwent full text screening and 8 were included in the review. Included studies were of moderate to high quality and no exclusions were made on the basis of quality or bias. Multimorbidity was associated with poorer HrQoL at mid-life. Two cross-sectional studies found that adults with multimorbidity at early mid-life reported poorer HrQoL than adults with multimorbidity at late mid-life, while another found the reverse. Two distinct disease clusters were identified: mental health conditions and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Those in the mental health cluster reported poorer HrQoL than those in the CVD cluster, women more so than men. Limitations of the selected studies include lack of longitudinal evidence, use of self-reported conditions and no assessment of disease severity. Multimorbidity is associated with poor HrQoL at mid-life at the population level, with some evidence of differences in association with age and disease cluster and sparse evidence on sex differences. Longitudinal research using a weighted disease severity index and multimorbidity trajectories is needed to strengthen the evidence base.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-62
Number of pages10
Early online date6 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Health-related quality of life
  • multimorbidity
  • middle age
  • general population

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