The role of nursing in multimorbidity care

McParland, Christopher Robert (2024) The role of nursing in multimorbidity care. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Multimorbidity (the co-occurrence of two or more chronic conditions in the same person) affects around one in three persons, and it is strongly associated with a range of negative outcomes including worsening physical function, increased health care use, and premature death. Due to the way healthcare is provided to people with multimorbidity, treatment can become burdensome, fragmented and inefficient. In people with palliative conditions, multimorbidity is increasingly common. Better models of care are needed.


A mixed-methods programme of research designed to inform the development of a nurse-led intervention for people with multimorbidity and palliative conditions. A mixed-methods systematic review explored nurse-led interventions for multimorbidity and their effects on outcomes. A cross-sectional study of 63,328 emergency department attenders explored the association between multimorbidity, complex multimorbidity (≥3 conditions affecting ≥3 body systems), and disease-burden on healthcare use and inpatient mortality. A focussed ethnographic study of people with multimorbidity and life-limiting conditions and their carers (n=12) explored the concept of treatment burden.


Nurse-led interventions for people with multimorbidity generally focus on care coordination (i.e., case management or transitional care); patients view them positively, but they do not reliably reduce health care use or costs. Multimorbidity and complex multimorbidity were significantly associated with admission from the emergency department and reattendance within 30 and 90 days. The association was greater in those with more conditions. There was no association with inpatient mortality. People with multimorbidity and palliative conditions experienced treatment burden in a manner consistent with existing theoretical models. This thesis also noted the effect of uncertainty on the balance between capacity and workload and proposes a model of how these concepts relate to one another.


This thesis addresses a gap in what is known about the role of nurses in providing care to the growing number of people with multimorbidity. A theory-based nurse-led intervention is proposed which prioritises managing treatment burden and uncertainty.


Nursing in an age of multimorbidity necessitates a perspective shift which conceptualises chronic conditions as multiple overlapping phenomena situated within an individual. The role of the nurse should be to help patients navigate the complexity of living with multiple chronic conditions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: R Medicine > RT Nursing
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Supervisor's Name: Johnston, Professor Bridget and Cooper, Dr. Mark
Date of Award: 2024
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2024-84079
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2024 10:06
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2024 13:59
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.84079
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