An interpretative phenomenological analysis of the lived experience of people with multimorbidity in low- and middle-income countries

COSMOS Collaboration

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


People living with multimorbidity (PLWMM) have multiple needs and require long-term personalised care, which necessitates an integrated people-centred approach to healthcare. However, people-centred care may risk being a buzzword in global health and cannot be achieved unless we consider and prioritise the lived experience of the people themselves. This study captures the lived experiences of PLWMM in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) by exploring their perspectives, experiences, and aspirations.

We analysed 50 semi-structured interview responses from 10 LMICs across three regions—South Asia, Latin America, and Western Africa—using an interpretative phenomenological analysis approach.

The bodily, social, and system experiences of illness by respondents were multidirectional and interactive, and largely captured the complexity of living with multimorbidity. Despite expensive treatments, many experienced little improvements in their conditions and felt that healthcare was not tailored to their needs. Disease management involved multiple and fragmented healthcare providers with lack of guidance, resulting in repetitive procedures, loss of time, confusion, and frustration. Financial burden was exacerbated by lost productivity and extreme finance coping strategies, creating a vicious cycle. Against the backdrop of uncertainty and disruption due to illness, many demonstrated an ability to cope with their conditions and navigate the healthcare system. Respondents’ priorities were reflective of their desire to return to a pre-illness way of life—resuming work, caring for family, and maintaining a sense of independence and normalcy despite illness. Respondents had a wide range of needs that required financial, health education, integrated care, and mental health support.

In discussion with respondents on outcomes, it appeared that many have complementary views about what is important and relevant, which may differ from the outcomes established by clinicians and researchers. This knowledge needs to complement and be incorporated into existing research and treatment models to ensure healthcare remains focused on the human and our evolving needs.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere013606
JournalBMJ Global Health
Issue number1
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Qualitative study


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