Institute for Health & Ageing

Multimorbidity Statistical Modelling

Statistical modelling of multimorbidity profiles in the Australian general population


Multimorbidity, defined as the presence of multiple chronic conditions within one person, is a significant public health problem in Australia and the developed world. Diagnosis, prognosis and treatment in the presence of multiple diseases can be complex due to the various interactions between diseases, treatment contraindications and treatments themselves. Identifying which chronic conditions tend to cluster most frequently can provide insights into common aetiology of chronic illness, with potential for better treatment and prognosis.

This project utilises data from the Australian National Health Surveys from 1977 to 2011/12 to undertake statistical modelling of chronic disease co-occurrence in Australian general population. Data from the 2007/08 survey were used to identify morbidity patterns at single point in time (this survey being the most comprehensive survey to date of mental and physical health conditions). Data from previous and subsequent surveys are currently being used to document longitudinal stability of the identified patterns.

Our results will provide insights into the nature of mental and physical multimorbidity in the Australian general population. Identifying specific links between chronic health conditions has great potential for targeted interventions. Following confirmation of the identified morbidity classes, cost-effective interventions aimed at the specific multimorbidity subgroups, could then be developed.