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Abstract Introduction The prevalence of multiple long-term conditions (M-LTCs) increases as adults age and impacts quality of life and health outcomes. To help people manage these conditions, complex behaviour change interventions are used, often based on research conducted in those with single LTCs. However, the needs of those with M-LTCs can differ due to complex health decision-making and engagement with multiple health and care teams. Objectives The aim of this review is to identify whether current interventions are effective for people living with M-LTCs, and which outcomes are most appropriate to detect this change. Methods Five databases (MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL and Web of Science) were systematically searched, between January 1999 and January 2022, to identify randomised controlled trials evaluating effectiveness of behaviour change interventions in people with M-LTCs. Intervention characteristics, intervention effectiveness and outcome measures were meta-analysed and narratively synthesised. Results 53 eligible articles were included. Emotional well-being and psychological distress (depression and anxiety) outcomes were most amenable to change (emotional well-being: standardised mean difference (SMD) 0.31 (95% CI 0.04 to 0.58); depression psychological distress: SMD −0.45 (95% CI –0.73 to −0.16); anxiety psychological distress: SMD −0.14 (95% CI –0.28 to 0.00)), particularly for interventions with a collaborative care approach. Interventions targeting those with a physical and mental health condition and those with cognitive and/or behavioural activation approach saw larger reductions in psychological distress outcomes. Interventions that lasted for longer than 6 months significantly improved the widest variety of outcomes. Conclusion Complex interventions can be successfully delivered to those with M-LTCs. These are most effective at reducing psychological distress in those with physical and mental LTCs. Further research is needed to identify the effective components of interventions for people with two or more physical LTCs and which outcome is most appropriate for detecting this change.

More information Original publication



Journal article


BMJ Open 2024;14:e081104.


BMJ Open 2024;14:e081104.


BMJ Publishing Group Ltd

Publication Date





This study/project is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research (572). PI: Tasmin Rookes