Person on a mobility scooter driving past a church

Multiple long-term conditions

Understanding multiple long-term conditions

Defining multimorbidity and how we're working to address the social determinants of health.

We’re running a ten-year programme to ensure longer, healthier lives for people with multiple long-term conditions.


What are multiple long-term conditions?

We use the term multiple long-term conditions to describe when someone lives with three or more long-term health conditions for which there is currently no cure, but which can be treated – such as asthma, diabetes or depression. This is sometimes also known as multimorbidity.

The reasons some people develop multiple health conditions sooner than others are not well understood. High blood pressure, obesity, smoking and drinking are risk factors that play a role, so are genes, biology and the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.

What are the causes of long-term health conditions?

While it’s not yet clear which factors contribute more than others, our research and work to date show significant variation in the length of time between people developing one and subsequent conditions.

For example, in Lambeth, people living in the areas with the highest levels of deprivation are developing long-term conditions on average 10 years earlier than those living in the most affluent.

In our programme, we focus on the social determinants of health – aspects of our lives that can shape our health. Our strands of work look at how housing, work, finances and healthcare can influence our health and wellbeing.

The number of people living with multiple health conditions is on the rise. Currently, more than eight million people in England live with three or more long-term health conditions.

The 32 conditions we're focusing on in our programme

Risk factors

How will we achieve our goal of slowing people’s progression to multiple long-term conditions?

To achieve our goal, we are taking a targeted approach to our programme. We are focusing on people who, according to the best evidence available, are at the greatest risk of rapid progression to multiple conditions. We are first targeting people of working age, in areas with high levels of deprivation, and who live with diabetes, chronic pain or risk factors such as smoking or high blood pressure.

We work with people, institutions, businesses and physical spaces that make up the communities and systems in which people live their lives. To achieve impact in our place, we partner with others at different scales. This includes influencing national policy, addressing borough-wide issues, and partnering with others to layer activities at a neighbourhood level.

While our solutions will benefit Lambeth and Southwark, our insights will be relevant to other cities in the UK and internationally.