Older people's preferences for involvement in their own care: a qualitative study in primary health care in 11 European countries

Patient Educ Couns. 2007 Sep;68(1):33-42. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2007.03.025. Epub 2007 Jun 1.


Objective: The aim of the study was to explore the views of people aged over 70 years on involvement in their primary health care in 11 different European countries.

Methods: Older patients were asked about their views on patient involvement in a face-to-face interview. All interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed in accordance with the principles of 'qualitative content analysis'. An international code list was used.

Results: Four hundred and six primary care patients aged between 70 and 96 years were interviewed. Their views could be categorized into four major groups: doctor-patient interaction, GP related topics, patient related issues and contextual factors.

Conclusion: People over 70 do want to be involved in their care but their definition of involvement is more focussed on the 'caring relationship', 'person-centred approach' and 'receiving information' than on 'active participation in decision making'.

Practice implications: The desire for involvement in decision making is highly heterogeneous so an individual approach for each patient in the ageing population is needed. Future research and medical education should focus on methods and training to elicit older patients' preferences. The similar views in 11 countries suggest that methods for enhancing patient involvement in older people could be internationally developed and exchanged.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged / psychology*
  • Aged / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Authoritarianism
  • Communication
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Decision Making
  • Empathy
  • Europe
  • Family Practice* / methods
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Participation / methods
  • Patient Participation / psychology*
  • Patient Satisfaction / ethnology*
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Physician's Role / psychology
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Primary Health Care* / methods
  • Qualitative Research
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urbanization