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Older adults’ suggestions to engage other older adults in health and healthcare: a qualitative study conducted in western Canada

Authors Tzeng HM, Okpalauwaekwe U, Yin CY

Received 6 November 2018

Accepted for publication 26 January 2019

Published 21 February 2019 Volume 2019:13 Pages 331—337

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PPA.S182941

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Ms Justinn Cochran

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen


Huey-Ming Tzeng,1 Udoka Okpalauwaekwe,2 Chang-Yi Yin3

1College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada; 2Department of Academic Family Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada; 3Taiwan History Research Foundation, Taipei, Taiwan

Aim: This qualitative study reports identified themes from suggestions made by 533 Canadian older adults, aged ≥65 years in response to the open-ended question contained in a Saskatchewan Telephone Survey: “What suggestions can you make to engage someone in their health and healthcare?”.
Background: In 2016, seniors accounted for 16.9% of the Canadian population. As Canadians age over the next 30 years, emergency room visits are predicted to increase by 40%, outpacing the expected 30% population growth. Avoiding this increase could save the nation about $210 million annually. A recent US study reported that the ability of seniors to carry out self-care actions predicted lower likelihood of emergency department use within 3 months.
Materials and methods: We conducted a secondary data analysis based on a province-wide, cross-sectional Saskatchewan (Canada) Telephone Survey of seniors’ self-care needs conducted in March–June 2018 (N=1,000). Results were analyzed using qualitative thematic content analysis. Data were charted and coded separately by two researchers; coding conflicts were resolved by consensus.
Results: A total of 533 seniors answered the open-ended question. Content analysis resulted in 11 contextual content areas with 956 total suggestions. Five key themes emerged, which included the following: feasible healthcare access, being proactive toward healthy living, having social support systems, being more open to alternative medicine, and other self-care options, and having more trained healthcare professionals to care for seniors.
Conclusion: This study reveals facilitators and challenges that currently face seniors. Seniors want equitable access to professional healthcare services and an environment that fosters self-care actions in everyday living. There is a gap in supports that would assist seniors to engage in their health and healthcare. Additional research on this issue could further inform health and human service providers to develop patient-centered strategies for promoting self-care among seniors.

Keywords: patient empowerment, self-management, Canadian healthcare system, healthcare access, healthy living, social support, alternative medicine, health care professional training, active living, care navigation

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