Self-management challenges following hospital discharge for patients with multimorbidity: a longitudinal qualitative study of a motivational interviewing intervention

BMJ Open. 2021 Jul 30;11(7):e046896. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-046896.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to describe challenges in self-management activities among people with multimorbidity during a 4-week post-discharge period.

Design: This is a longitudinal qualitative study using data from a randomised controlled trial (RCT) of motivational interviewing (MI) sessions.

Setting: The RCT was conducted at six wards in two hospitals-one university hospital and one general hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, during 2016-2018.

Participants: Sixteen participants from the intervention group, diagnosed with heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and at least one other chronic condition, were purposively selected for this study.

Interventions: Each participant had four or five post-discharge MI sessions with a trained social worker during a period of approximately 4 weeks. The sessions were recorded digitally and analysed using content analysis. Altogether, 70 recorded sessions were analysed.

Results: Self-management after hospital discharge was a dynamic process with several shifting features that evolved gradually over time. Patients with multimorbidity experienced two major challenges with self-management in the first 4 weeks following hospital discharge: 'Managing a system-centred care' and 'Handling the burden of living with multiple illnesses at home post-discharge'.

Conclusions: Self-management for patients with multimorbidity in the first post-discharge period does not equate to a fixed set of tasks, but varies over the post-discharge period. Self-management challenges include not only the burden of the disease itself, but also that of navigating and understanding the healthcare system. Hence, self-management support post-discharge involves both aiding patients with care coordination and meeting their gradually shifting disease-related needs.

Trial registration number: NCT02823795.

Keywords: chronic airways disease; general medicine (see internal medicine); heart failure; primary care; qualitative research.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Motivational Interviewing*
  • Multimorbidity
  • Patient Discharge
  • Quality of Life
  • Self-Management*
  • Sweden

Associated data