OBJECTIVE: To examine the experiences of primary care consultation among older adults with symptomatic foot osteoarthritis (OA).
METHODS: Eleven participants (6 women and 5 men) ages 56-80 years who had radiographically confirmed symptomatic foot OA and consulted a general practitioner in the last 12 months for foot pain were purposively sampled. Semistructured interviews explored the nature of the foot problem, help-seeking behaviors, and consultation experiences. Verbatim transcripts were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.
RESULTS: The decision to consult a physician was often the outcome of a complex process influenced by quantitative and qualitative changes in symptoms, difficulty maintaining day-to-day roles and responsibilities and the effect this had on family and work colleagues, and a reluctance to present a fragile or aging self to the outside world. Self-management was commonly negotiated alongside multimorbidities. Upon seeking help, participants often believed they received limited information, they were given a brief or even cursory assessment, and that treatment was focused on the prescription of analgesic drugs.
CONCLUSION: This is the first qualitative study of primary care experiences among patients with symptomatic foot OA. The experience of primary care seldom appeared to move beyond a label of arthritis and an unwelcome emphasis on pharmacologic treatment.
- Aged, 80 and over
- Foot Diseases
- Middle Aged
- Patient Satisfaction
- Primary Health Care
- Qualitative Research
- Referral and Consultation