Perceptions of an older patient on the role of the family doctor in health promotion: a qualitative case study

Marcinowicz L, Pawlikowska T, Windak A, Chlabicz S.
J Med Case Rep. 2013 Feb 28;7(1):57. doi: 10.1186/1752-1947-7-57.

Department of Family Medicine and Community Nursing, Medical University of Bialystok, Mieszka I 4 B, Bialystok 15 054, Poland.


INTRODUCTION:  Health promotion and disease prevention are important aspects of primary health care. However, limited data are available concerning the opinions of older patients towards the respective services offered by family doctors. The aim of the present study was to evaluate an older patient’s perception of the role of the family doctor in promoting his health, and identify those components that are difficult to examine in quantitative research.

METHODS:  A qualitative case study of an 80-year-old man using an in-depth interview was carried out. The interview transcript was analyzed thematically. Our patient was an 80-year-old university-educated man, with stable social and financial circumstances, living with his wife. He had retired early on grounds of ill health (tuberculosis) and had received a disability pension prior to formal retirement. At the time of the interview, his medical problems included mild prostatic hypertrophy, scoliosis and hypertension. He considered his health status to be satisfactory. He had changed family doctor five years prior to the interview, as he had been dissatisfied with the care provided.

RESULTS:  We found that our patient expected the family doctor to be aware of, and to discuss, the following issues: physical activity, diet, management of stress and mental health, use of alcohol and tobacco, personal hygiene, health screening, use of medication, and social activity. At the same time, our patient perceived the doctor’s role as supplementary to his own in terms of the appraisal and maintenance of his health.

CONCLUSIONS:  Our findings provide evidence of what is important in the promotion of health among older people.