'One feels somewhere that one is insignificant in that system' - older multimorbid patients' between lifeworld and system in healthcare

BMC Geriatr. 2021 Jun 29;21(1):397. doi: 10.1186/s12877-021-02348-x.


Background: When older multimorbid people are acutely hospitalized, continuity of care is a fundamental goal in the healthcare process. However, some acute hospitalized older multimorbid patients do not experience continuity of care. This phenomenon is explored using the theoretical framework of Jürgen Habermas "Theory of communicative action".

Methods: Acutely hospitalized patients over the age of 65 with two or more chronic conditions and who received home care services were invited to participate in two interviews: one at the emergency department and the other 4-12 weeks after discharge. These interviews formed the basis for an evaluation of patient experience of continuity of care, and the content of the interviews was analyzed using a structured matrix.

Results: Fifteen patients participated with seven patients evaluated to have continuity of care in their healthcare process. Eight patients were evaluated as not having experienced continuity of care in their healthcare process. The categories from the matrix highlighted a healthcare system that interfered with a patient's lifeworld with a lack of communication, different expectations, frustration regarding care, strained relations to health care providers and feelings of being objectified.

Conclusions: We conclude that mutual understanding based on communicative action is essential when it comes to patients' experiences of continuity of care. Our results justify improving the mutual understanding between patients and professionals in transition between healthcare sectors. Future research should target whether an enhanced focus on communicative action and mutual understanding in particular between non-healthcare professionals and patients will improve the patients' perception of continuity of care.

Keywords: Acute hospitalization; Continuity of care; Habermas; Life world; Older people; System.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Emotions
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Patient Discharge
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Qualitative Research