Real-world illness requires medical multitasking

To improve health care, researchers need to study diseases as they occur: in combination.

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People are complicated, and their medical problems rarely come neatly packaged as the single diseases that scientists and doctors study. A report released on 19 April by the UK Academy of Medical Sciences details the challenges of studying and treating individuals who have multiple medical conditions, known as multimorbidity. Variations in the definition and frequency of multimorbidity across populations have led to wide estimates of its prevalence, ranging from 13% to 95% of patients globally. The report offers a list of recommendations on what health-care providers can do to address the problem of multimorbidity, and identifies the knowledge gaps that need to be filled.

Researchers should take heed: if their work is to translate to the real world, more scientists — at the clinic and the bench — should shift their focus to look at interactions between disorders.


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