Multimorbidity in patients living with and beyond cancer: protocol for a scoping review

The following databases will be searched for articles published between 1990 and 2021 (inclusive): MEDLINE, CINAHL, Embase and Web of Science. The year 1990 was chosen as the cut-off date because ‘comorbidity’ was introduced as a Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) term in 1990. Also, cancer mortality started declining in the 1990s.26 The search will be carried out using Ovid platform for MEDLINE and Embase and other databases will be searched through their own searching platforms. To ensure inclusion of all relevant studies, reference lists of included studies (forward and backward citation) will be screened for new articles. To ensure transparency and replicability, the MeSH search strategy that will be adopted is presented here (box 1). The search strategy was developed in consultation with an experienced medical librarian. As scoping reviews are iterative, it is expected that the proposed search terms may need to be refined as the extent of literature is explored.27

Box 1

MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) terms/Text words


  1. (neoplasm$ or cancer$ or tumor$ or tumour$ or carcinoma$ or leukem$ or leukaem$ or malignan$ or oncolog$).ti,ab.

  2. (breast cancer or mammary cancer or breast carcinoma or breast metastasis).ti,ab.

  3. (prostat$ or prostatic adenocarcinoma or prostatic carcinoma or cancerous prostate or metastatic prostate cancer).ti,ab.

  4. (non-hodgkin$ lymphoma or NHL or chronic lymphocytic leukemia or small lymphocytic lymphoma or Burkitt lymphoma or CLL or SLL or $lymphoma$).ti,ab.

  5. (bowel or colorectal or colon or rectum or anal or small bowel or large bowel).ti,ab.

  6. (kidney or renal cell adenocarcinoma or renal cell).ti,ab.

  7. (head and neck or larynx or throat or lips or mouth or nose or salivary gland$ or $nasal or laryngeal or oesophageal or tonsil or pharyngeal or tongue).ti,ab.

  8. (bladder or urolethial or urinary bladder or squamous cell bladder or adenocarcinoma bladder).ti,ab.

  9. (Leukaemia or Leukemia or Acute myeloid leuk$ or AML or acute lymphoblastic leuk$ or ALL or chronic myeloid leuk$ or CML or chronic lymphocytic leuk$ or CLL or Hairy cell leuk$).ti,ab.

  10. (uterine or uterus or womb or uterine sarcoma or endometrial).ti,ab.

  11. (myeloma or multiple myeloma or light chain myeloma or non-secretory myeloma or plasma cell).ti,ab.

  12. exp humans/ not not Drug Design/

  13. 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 or 10 or 11

  14. 1 and 12 and 13


15. Comorbidity/

16. (Multimorbid$ or multi-morbid$ or Co-morbid$).ti,ab.

17. Chronic Disease/ or (Chronic adj5 (illness$ or condition$ or disease)).ti,ab.

18. (Long term adj5 (condition$ or illness$ or disease$)).ti,ab.

19. 15 or 16 or 17 or 18

Impact of comorbidity

20. Prevalence/ or Incidence/

21. Quantitative Research/ or

22. Primary or Primary Health Care/ or Secondary or Secondary Care/ or Community or Community Health Services/ or Ambulatory or Ambulatory Care/ or Delivery of Health Care/ or Integrated/ or Preventive Health Services/ or Family Practice/ or Shared or Collaborat$

23. Health/ or Health status/ or Health Status Indicator/ or Mental Health/

24. Survival Analysis/ or Progression-free survival/ or disease-free survival/ or Overall Survival/

25. (Well-being or Well being).mp. or or Continuity of or Continuity of Patient Care/ or (Fragmented adj5 care).mp or (joined-up or Joined Up).mp or Integrated or Diversity of

26. or Stress, Psychological/ or Social Support/ or or Quality of Life/ or Experience of or Experience adj5 Illness or Attitude to Health/ or Quality of or Happ$.mp or Emotion$.mp. or Emotions/

27. Patient or Patient Satisfaction/ or Quality of Health Care/ or Delivery of Health Care/ or Patient or or Information

28. Access to Health or Health Services Accessibility/ or Life Change Events/

29. (Patient-centred care or Patient centred care or Patient-centred or Person-centred or Patient centred or Person centred).mp or Patient-Centered Care/

30. Survivor$.mp. or Survivors/ or Living with and beyond

31. Epidemiology

32. 20 or 21 or 22 or 23 or 24 or 25 or 26 or 27 or 28 or 29 or 30 or 31

33. 14 and 19 and 31

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