Perspectives of Low-Income Chronically Ill Patients on Complex Care Management

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Introduction: Low-income, chronically ill adults disproportionately experience poor health outcomes despite increased health care use and costs. Complex care management (CCM) programs are an innovative approach to improving outcomes for these patients, but little is known about the patients’ experiences in CCM programs in safety net primary care settings. Method: The authors conducted semistructured interviews with 13 CCM participants in a safety net primary care clinic to explore their perceptions of their health and their experiences with CCM. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, independently coded, and analyzed through an iterative process using grounded theory methodology to identify themes in the participants’ experiences. Results: From our interviews, 3 themes emerged—(a) participants mourned the loss of physical function and social well-being as a result of poor health; (b) participants reported increased health-related motivation due to relationships with the care team; and (c) participants experienced a newfound sense of control as a result of improved care navigation and self-management. Discussion: Complex care management improved health-related motivation and provided a renewed sense of control for study participants, who were experiencing the loss of physical function and social well-being due to their chronic diseases. These findings support the importance of relationship-centered care models in programs for low-income, chronically ill patients. Future research should focus on identifying and spreading best practices that effectively empower patients to feel more in control of their health.

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