“Until you’re there… you don’t know how you’ll be”. a phenomenological study of the influence of lived experiences on beliefs and attitudes about being a patient.

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Nelson, Michelle L. A.
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Canadians are worried about the future of the health care system, and provincial governments are questioning the ability of the existing system to support Canadians health care needs in the 21st Century(Industry Canada, 2011). Health care providers and system administrators are both driving and experiencing a paradigm shift; moving away from paternalism and toward an egalitarian approach. In order to practice patient centredness, health care providers must prioritize patient needs; provide information regarding treatments while taking patient preferences into account (Romanow, 2002). While there is a growing body of literature regarding patient centredness, there is scant information from the patient perspective. If the most effective and acceptable health services are those that realize the expectations of the users, this is an important area of study. Using phenomenological research methods and the theory of planned behaviour as a theoretical framework, the purpose of the study was to explore the influence of beliefs, attitudes and experiences on behaviour from the perspective of patients in primary health care or stroke rehabilitation. A second purpose was to explore the degree to which beliefs, attitudes and behaviour were similar between clinical contexts. The theory of planned behaviour was unsuitable for understanding peoples’ beliefs, attitudes and behaviour about being a patient. Being a patient was not a single, observable behaviour, but rather a set of contextually dependent strategies patients’ directed at a particular goal. The goal for each participant group was different; rehabilitation patients focused on the specific goal of recovery and discharge, while PHC patients focused on a broader goal of accessing and receiving best health care possible. These goals were reflected in their respective approaches to accessing health care services, an experience they described as socially oriented, governed and reinforced. Although patients described themselves as actively engaged, they did not approach each interaction with health care with a set of behavioural beliefs about being a patient. During the course of their participation, patients identified, developed and adopted strategies to assist in achieving the target; and evaluated those strategies more positively.
patient centredness, stroke rehabilitation, primary health care, phenomenology, patient experience