Background The current study used data from an ethnically diverse population from South London to examine ethnic differences in physical and mental multimorbidity among working age (18-64 years) adults in the context of depression and anxiety. Method The study included 44 506 patients who had previously attended Improving Access to Psychological Therapies services in the London Borough of Lambeth. Multinomial logistic regression examined cross-sectional associations between ethnicity with physical and mental multimorbidity. Patterns of multimorbidity were identified using hierarchical cluster analysis. Results Within 44 056 working age adults with a history of depression or anxiety from South London there were notable ethnic differences in physical multimorbidity. Adults of Black Caribbean ethnicity were more likely to have physical multimorbidity [adjusted relative risk ratio (aRRR) = 1.25, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.15-1.36] compared to adults of White ethnicity. Relative to adults of White ethnicity, adults of Asian ethnicity were more likely to have physical multimorbidity at higher thresholds only (e.g. 4 + conditions; aRRR = 1.53, 95% CI 1.17-2.00). Three physical (atopic, cardiometabolic, mixed) and three mental (alcohol/substance use, common/severe mental illnesses, personality disorder) multimorbidity clusters emerged. Ethnic minority groups with multimorbidity had a higher probability of belonging to the cardiometabolic cluster. Conclusion In an ethnically diverse population with a history of common mental health disorders, we found substantial between- and within-ethnicity variation in rates of physical, but not mental, multimorbidity. The findings emphasised the value of more granular definitions of ethnicity when examining the burden of physical and mental multimorbidity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6212-6222
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2023


  • Anxiety
  • cluster analysis
  • common mental health disorders
  • depression
  • ethnicity
  • multimorbidity

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