Understanding the interaction between non-communicable disease, multi-morbidity and infection.
We have shown that many long-term health problems and their accumulation (known as multi-morbidity, which is present in most people over the age of 70) are associated with an increased risk of dying due to infection. Our earlier work was performed using UK Biobank data collected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasising the importance of many common infections in addition to COVID-19. However, what makes people with long-term health problems more susceptible to developing infections and dying as a result of these remains poorly understood. With the increasing prevalence of many long-term health problems and multi-morbidity, this is an increasingly important question for individuals, health services and society. There is also wider relevance to the problem of 'antibiotic resistance' since as infection episodes become more common, more antibiotics are used and this can promote the development of infections resistant to antibiotics. However, we lack knowledge about the links between specific long-term health problems and antibiotic resistance, which makes it harder to improve infection outcomes across society. We will use UK Biobank to explore risk factors for adverse infection outcomes in a project that is expected to last 3 or more years. The results of this research will help us understand why certain individuals with long-term health problems are at particularly increased risk of adverse infection outcomes. This knowledge may help to guide the development of new preventative and therapeutic approaches and inform public health policy.