Patient asthma networks: understanding who is important and why

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BackgroundMultidisciplinary care (MDC) has been proposed as an essential component to the delivery of effective and efficient health care. However, patients have shown to establish their own sources of health advice and support outside the professional domain. It remained unclear as to how patients' choices may impact on MDC.ObjectiveThis study aimed to explore the role of patients in MDC, specifically (i) how and why patients select sources of health services, information and support, that is, their health connections and (ii) the key elements contributing to the nature and development of patients' health connections.MethodsIn-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with asthma participants from Sydney, Australia. Participants were recruited from a broad range of primary health-care access points. Face-to-face and telephone interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, independently reviewed by two authors and analysed using a qualitative approach.ResultsA total of 47 interviews were conducted. Participants established health connections around their asthma needs and selected a combination of professional, personal and impersonal health connections for advice and support. Several key elements were reported to contribute towards the nature and development of patients' health networks. These included participants' perceptions of the role of HCPs, their level of trust in relationships, the convenience of accessing health advice and their perceptions of asthma.ConclusionBy exploring patients' sources of health advice and support, this research provided new insight into how patients choose to manage asthma, particularly the way in which they selected health connections and their potential impact on MDC.

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