To intend to but not being able to: frequent attenders' experiences of suffering and of their encounter with the health care system

J Holist Nurs. 2011 Sep;29(3):211-20. doi: 10.1177/0898010110386957. Epub 2010 Nov 9.


Purpose: Patients who frequently consult the health care system are supposed to cause great economic costs, and they also trouble the health care staff, as it seems as if there are no interventions that will help and keep them healthy. The researcher assumes that these patients attend for a reason and that they attend frequently because they, from a holistic point of view, do not get their health care needs fulfilled. This article aims to describe how frequent attenders experience their suffering and their encounter with the health care system.

Design and method: The study has an inductive hermeneutic design. Interviews with persons identified as frequent attenders were analyzed by means of a hermeneutic inquiry with three interpretive steps: naive reading, structural analysis, and critical reflection.

Findings: Patients are constantly striving to be and become healthy, to be of use, and to please others. The patients do not attend until suffering is experienced as unbearable. The patients experience, however, that health care staff do not understand their situation. Patients experience feelings of mistrust and rejection, which increases suffering.

Conclusion: Holistic care could be a means to relieve suffering and, as a consequence, reduce attendance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Female
  • Health Services Misuse*
  • Holistic Nursing*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stress, Psychological / nursing*
  • Sweden