PLoS Medicine (May 2020)

Multimorbidity, mortality, and HbA1c in type 2 diabetes: A cohort study with UK and Taiwanese cohorts.

  • Jason I Chiang,
  • Peter Hanlon,
  • Tsai-Chung Li,
  • Bhautesh Dinesh Jani,
  • Jo-Anne Manski-Nankervis,
  • John Furler,
  • Cheng-Chieh Lin,
  • Shing-Yu Yang,
  • Barbara I Nicholl,
  • Sharmala Thuraisingam,
  • Frances S Mair

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 17, no. 5
p. e1003094


Read online

BackgroundThere is emerging interest in multimorbidity in type 2 diabetes (T2D), which can be either concordant (T2D related) or discordant (unrelated), as a way of understanding the burden of disease in T2D. Current diabetes guidelines acknowledge the complex nature of multimorbidity, the management of which should be based on the patient's individual clinical needs and comorbidities. However, although associations between multimorbidity, glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c), and mortality in people with T2D have been studied to some extent, significant gaps remain, particularly regarding different patterns of multimorbidity, including concordant and discordant conditions. This study explores associations between multimorbidity (total condition counts/concordant/discordant/different combinations of conditions), baseline HbA1c, and all-cause mortality in T2D.Methods and findingsWe studied two longitudinal cohorts of people with T2D using the UK Biobank (n = 20,569) and the Taiwan National Diabetes Care Management Program (NDCMP) (n = 59,657). The number of conditions in addition to T2D was used to quantify total multimorbidity, concordant, and discordant counts, and the effects of different combinations of conditions were also studied. Outcomes of interest were baseline HbA1c and all-cause mortality. For the UK Biobank and Taiwan NDCMP, mean (SD) ages were 60.2 (6.8) years and 60.8 (11.3) years; 7,579 (36.8%) and 31,339 (52.5%) were female; body mass index (BMI) medians (IQR) were 30.8 (27.7, 34.8) kg/m2 and 25.6 (23.5, 28.7) kg/m2; and 2,197 (10.8%) and 9,423 (15.8) were current smokers, respectively. Increasing total and discordant multimorbidity counts were associated with lower HbA1c and increased mortality in both datasets. In Taiwan NDCMP, for those with four or more additional conditions compared with T2D only, the mean difference (95% CI) in HbA1c was -0.82% (-0.88, -0.76) p 5 times the mortality (5.83 [4.28-7.93] p ConclusionsMultimorbidity patterns associated with the highest mortality differed between UK Biobank (a population predominantly comprising people of European descent) and the Taiwan NDCMP, a predominantly ethnic Chinese population. Future research should explore the mechanisms underpinning the observed relationship between increasing multimorbidity count and reduced HbA1c alongside increased mortality in people with T2D and further examine the implications of different patterns of multimorbidity across different ethnic groups. Better understanding of these issues, especially effects of condition type, will enable more effective personalisation of care.