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The “Journal of Comorbidity” changed to the “Journal of Multimorbidity and Comorbidity.”

By Martin Fortin

Formerly, we could find in the description of the Journal of Comorbidity that it published “original clinical and experimental research articles on the pathophysiology, diagnosis, prevention and management of patients with comorbidity/multimorbidity.” Now, in the description of the Journal of Multimorbidity and Comorbidity, one reads that it publishes the same type of articles on “comorbidity and multimorbidity.”

The change in the name of the journal and the change in the description from “comorbidity/multimorbidity” to “comorbidity and multimorbidity” may seem natural for those working on multimorbidity or those who are familiar with its meaning. However, for many who still consider both words as interchangeable, writing “comorbidity/multimorbidity” could have been seen as normal and the separation in “comorbidity and multimorbidity” could be seen as redundant.

In 1996, van den Akker and colleagues [1] pointed out the prevailing ambiguity around the use of both terms at that time, and suggested distinct definitions for them. Since then, there has been an increasing awareness about the difference between both terms and the importance of using them correctly. A benefit in using both terms adequately is that publications are then correctly classified, leading to an improvement in the quality of search queries and ultimately to better research.

However, although the first alert on the ambiguity in the use of the terms was published 25 years ago, it has taken a long time for the recognition of the difference between both terms and its effect in slowing down the advance of our knowledge on the subject. For example, in the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the term “multimorbidity” was a subheading under the Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) “comorbidity” until 2017. It was only in 2018 that the term “multimorbidity” appeared with the hierarchy of a MeSH.

In the editorial of the Journal of Multimorbidity and Comorbidity explaining the change in the name of the journal [2], it is well explained that multimorbidity and comorbidity are distinct concepts in research design, intervention development and healthcare delivery. However, there is not a universal recognition of this distinction yet.

We welcome the change in the name of the journal as another step in clarifying the use of the terms, hoping that it will contribute to our main goal which is to improve the health outcomes of our patients.

  1. van den Akker M, Buntinx F and Knottnerus JA. Comorbidity or multimorbidity: what’s in a name? A review of literature. Eur J Gen Pract 1996; 2: 65-70.
  2. Harrison C, Fortin M, van den Akker M, et al. Comorbidity versus multimorbidity: Why it matters. Journal of Multimorbidity and Comorbidity 2021; 11. Article first published online: March 2, 2021. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/2633556521993993.


  • 1
    Bruno P Nunes
    March 10, 2021 - 11:56 am | Permalink

    Well done. Important additional step…

  • 2
    Tatjana T Makovski
    March 13, 2021 - 5:43 am | Permalink

    So delighted about this name change; an important milestone for research on multimorbidity. Great editorial too! Many thanks.

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