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Patients with advanced multimorbidity struggle with complexity of services

Patients in their last year of life with co-existing chronic illnesses struggle to cope with the medications and services available, shows a recent UK study.

The multicentre study included interviews with 37 patients and their carers. The patients included in the study were recruited from an acute admissions unit, a general practice and an outpatient clinic, and were believed to be in their last year of life.

The researchers analysed 87 interviews with the patients are carers. The patients and carers both struggled with multiple changing medications, multiple services better aligned with single conditions such as cancer, and a lack of coordination and continuity of care. The latter led to perceptions that care was inconsistent and impersonal. Family carers spoke of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion and feeling undervalued by professionals. The comments from the interviews showed that patients and carers frequently found accessing the support they needed ‘impersonal’ and ‘challenging’.

The researchers noted that ‘greater awareness of the needs associated with advanced multimorbidity and the coping strategies adopted by these patients is necessary, together with more straightforward access to appropriate care’.

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