Frequent consulting and multiple morbidity: a qualitative comparison of ‘high’ and ‘low’ consulters of GPs

Townsend, A., Hunt, K. and Wyke, S. (2008) Frequent consulting and multiple morbidity: a qualitative comparison of ‘high’ and ‘low’ consulters of GPs. Family Practice, 25(3), pp. 168-175. (doi:10.1093/fampra/cmn017)

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Abstract

Background. Frequent consulting is associated with multiple and complex social and health conditions. It is not known how the impact of multiple conditions, the ability to self-manage and patient perception of the GP consultation combines to influence consulting frequency. Objective. To investigate reasons for frequent consultation among people with multiple morbidity but contrasting consulting rates. Methods. Qualitative study with in-depth interviews in the west of Scotland. Participants were 23 men and women aged about 50 years with four or more chronic illnesses; 11 reported consulting seven or more times in the last year [the frequent consulters (FCs)] and 12, three or fewer times [the less frequent consulters (LFCs)]. The main outcome measures were the participants’ accounts of their symptoms, self-management strategies and reasons for consulting a GP. Results. All participants used multiple self-management strategies. FCs described: more disruptive symptoms, which were resistant to self-management strategies; less access to fewer treatments and resources and more medical monitoring, for unstable conditions and drug regimens. The LFCs reported: less severe and more containable symptoms; accessing more efficacious self-management strategies and infrequent GP monitoring for stable conditions and routine drug regimens. All participants conveyed consulting as a ‘last resort’. However, the GP was seen as ‘ally’, for the FCs, and as ‘innocent bystander’, for the LFCs. Conclusions. This qualitative investigation into the combined significance of multiple morbidities and self-management on the GP consultation suggests that current models of self-management might have limited potential to reduce utilization rates among this vulnerable group. Severity of symptoms, stability of condition and complexity of drug regimens combine to influence the availability of effective resources and influence frequency of GP consultations

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wyke, Professor Sally and Hunt, Professor Kathryn
Authors: Townsend, A., Hunt, K., and Wyke, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Social Scientists working in Health and Wellbeing
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
College of Social Sciences
Journal Name:Family Practice
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0263-2136
ISSN (Online):1460-2229
Published Online:30 April 2008

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