Multimorbidity rehabilitation versus disease-specific rehabilitation in people with chronic diseases: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Academic Article uri icon


  • Background:Multimorbidity (the co-existence of two or more chronic conditions in an individual) is a growing healthcare burden internationally; however, healthcare and disease management, including rehabilitation, is often delivered in single-disease siloes. The aims of this study were to (1) evaluate the safety and feasibility of multimorbidity rehabilitation compared to a disease-specific rehabilitation program in people with multimorbidity and (2) gather preliminary data regarding clinical outcomes and resource utilization to inform the design of future trials. Methods:A pilot feasibility randomized controlled trial with concealed allocation, assessor blinding, and intention-to-treat analysis. Seventeen individuals with a chronic disease eligible for disease-specific rehabilitation (pulmonary, cardiac, heart failure rehabilitation) and at least one other chronic condition were recruited. The intervention group attended multimorbidity exercise rehabilitation and the control group attended disease-specific exercise rehabilitation. Participants attended twice-weekly exercise training and weekly education for 8 weeks. Feasibility measures included numbers screened, recruited, and completed. Other outcome measures were change in functional exercise capacity (6-minute walk test (6MWT)), health-related quality of life (HRQoL), activities of daily living (ADL), and resource utilization. Results:Sixty-one people were screened to recruit seventeen participants (nine intervention, eight control); one withdrew prior to rehabilitation. Participants were mostly male (63%) with a mean (SD) age of 69 (9) years and body mass index of 29 (6). The intervention group attended a mean (SD) of 12 (6) sessions, and the control group attended 11 (4) sessions. One participant (6%) withdrew after commencing; two (12%) were lost to follow-up. The intervention group 6MWT distance increased by mean (SD) of 22 (45) meters (95% confidence interval - 16 to 60) compared to 22 (57) meters (95% confidence interval - 69 to 114) (control). Conclusions:It was feasible to recruit people with multimorbidity to a randomized controlled trial of rehabilitation. A large RCT with the power to make significant conclusions about the impact on the primary and secondary outcomes is now required. Trial registration:The trial was registered with the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry available at ACTRN12614001186640. Registered 12/11/2014.


  • Barker, Kathryn
  • Holland, Anne E
  • Lee, Annemarie L
  • Haines, Terry
  • Ritchie, Kathryn
  • Boote, Claire
  • Saliba, Joanne
  • Lowe, Stephanie
  • Pazsa, Fiona
  • Thomas, Lee
  • Turczyniak, Monica
  • Skinner, Elizabeth H

publication date

  • 2018