Untangling the complexity of multimorbidity with machine learning

Journal article

The prevalence of multimorbidity has been increasing in recent years, posing a major burden for health care delivery and service. Understanding its determinants and impact is proving to be a challenge yet it offers new opportunities for research to go beyond the study of diseases in isolation. In this paper, we review how the field of machine learning provides many tools for addressing research challenges in multimorbidity.

We highlight recent advances in promising methods such as matrix factorisation, deep learning, and topological data analysis and how these can take multimorbidity research beyond cross-sectional, expert-driven or confirmatory approaches to gain a better understanding of evolving patterns of multimorbidity.

We discuss the challenges and opportunities of machine learning to identify likely causal links between previously poorly understood disease associations while giving an estimate of the uncertainty on such associations. We finally summarise some of the challenges for wider clinical adoption of machine learning research tools and propose some solutions.


Kazem Rahimi
Abdelaali Hassaine
Gholamreza Salimi-Khorshidi
Dexter Canoy
Volume 190, September 2020
Health and Wellbeing