Development and internal validation of prognostic models to predict negative health outcomes in older patients with multimorbidity and polypharmacy in general practice

Beate S. Mueller*, Lorenz Uhlmann, Peter Ihle, Christian Stock, Fiona von Buedingen, Martin Beyer, Ferdinand M. Gerlach, Rafael Perera, Jose Maria Valderas, Paul Glasziou, Marjan van den Akker, Christiane Muth

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background Polypharmacy interventions are resource-intensive and should be targeted to those at risk of negative health outcomes. Our aim was to develop and internally validate prognostic models to predict health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and the combined outcome of falls, hospitalisation, institutionalisation and nursing care needs, in older patients with multimorbidity and polypharmacy in general practices. Methods Design: two independent data sets, one comprising health insurance claims data (n=592 456), the other data from the PRIoritising MUltimedication in Multimorbidity (PRIMUM) cluster randomised controlled trial (n=502). Population: >= 60 years, >= 5 drugs, >= 3 chronic diseases, excluding dementia. Outcomes: combined outcome of falls, hospitalisation, institutionalisation and nursing care needs (after 6, 9 and 24 months) (claims data); and HRQoL (after 6 and 9 months) (trial data). Predictor variables in both data sets: age, sex, morbidity-related variables (disease count), medication-related variables (European Union-Potentially Inappropriate Medication list (EU-PIM list)) and health service utilisation. Predictor variables exclusively in trial data: additional socio-demographics, morbidity-related variables (Cumulative Illness Rating Scale, depression), Medication Appropriateness Index (MAI), lifestyle, functional status and HRQoL (EuroQol EQ-5D-3L). Analysis: mixed regression models, combined with stepwise variable selection, 10-fold cross validation and sensitivity analyses. Results Most important predictors of EQ-5D-3L at 6 months in best model (Nagelkerke's R-2 0.507) were depressive symptoms (-2.73 (95% CI: -3.56 to -1.91)), MAI (-0.39 (95% CI: -0.7 to -0.08)), baseline EQ-5D-3L (0.55 (95% CI: 0.47 to 0.64)). Models based on claims data and those predicting long-term outcomes based on both data sets produced low R-2 values. In claims data-based model with highest explanatory power (R-2=0.16), previous falls/fall-related injuries, previous hospitalisations, age, number of involved physicians and disease count were most important predictor variables. Conclusions Best trial data-based model predicted HRQoL after 6 months well and included parameters of well-being not found in claims. Performance of claims data-based models and models predicting long-term outcomes was relatively weak. For generalisability, future studies should refit models by considering parameters representing well-being and functional status.

Original languageEnglish
Article number039747
Number of pages13
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • primary care
  • therapeutics
  • geriatric medicine
  • health services administration &amp
  • management

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