Understanding Multiple Chronic Conditions: A Lifespan Approach

Multiple chronic conditions are a constant issue that both patients and clinicians need to be aware of, affect over two-thirds of older individuals. However, even with this information, chronic diseases are often studied in silosIn a study published in Chronic Illness, researchers try to better understand targeted approaches when dealing with multiple chronic conditions by taking a lifespan approach to understanding the development of multiple chronic conditions in the older population.

Thirty-eight older adults (age 64+) were used in this study and were given semi-structured interviews. Adults enrolled in the study also had to have at least two chronic health conditionsThe content from these interviews were analyzed to build understanding of how older adults discuss the timing of diagnoses and subsequent self-management of multiple chronic conditions. Based on the data collected, there were two primary themes: illnesses were experienced within the context of social life events and/or health events, and illnesses were not predominantly seen as connected to one another by patients. 

“Findings provide insight into how older adults understand their experience of multiple chronic conditions and change in self-management behaviors over time,” the researchers concluded. “In order for practitioners to ignite behavioral changes, a person’s history and life experiences must be considered.” 

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SOURCE: Chronic Illness