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Infection in older adults: a qualitative study of patient experience

Infection in older adults: a qualitative study of patient experience
Infection in older adults: a qualitative study of patient experience

BACKGROUND: Infection is common in older adults. Serious infection has a high mortality rate and is associated with unplanned hospital admissions. Little is known about the factors that prompt older patients to seek medical advice when they may have an infection.

AIM: To explore the symptoms of infection from the perspective of older adults, and when and why older patients seek healthcare advice for a possible infection.

DESIGN AND SETTING: A qualitative interview study among adults aged ≥70 years with a clinical diagnosis of infection recruited from ambulatory care units in Oxford, UK.

METHOD: Interviews were semi-structured and based on a flexible topic guide. Participants were given the option to be interviewed with their carer. Thematic analysis was facilitated using NVivo (version 11).

RESULTS: A total of 28 participants (22 patients and six carers) took part. Patients (aged 70-92 years) had experienced a range of different infections. Several early non-specific symptoms were described (fever, feeling unwell, lethargy, vomiting, pain, and confusion/delirium). Internally minimising symptoms was common and participants with historical experience of infection tended to be better able to interpret their symptoms. Factors influencing seeking healthcare advice included prompts from family, specific or intolerable symptoms, symptom duration, and being unable to manage with self-care. For some, not wanting to be a burden affected their desire to seek help.

CONCLUSION: Tailored advice to older adults highlighting early symptoms of infection may be beneficial. Knowing whether patients have had previous experience of infection may help healthcare professionals in assessing older patients with possible infection.

Aged, Frail elderly, Infection, Qualitative research
0960-1643
e312-e321
Moore, Abigail
d993e43e-fd67-45e9-88eb-9be04fd4667d
McKelvie, Sara
61c92fa0-fa9f-4d59-988d-6e669d8f8f32
Glogowska, Margaret
b6767d28-b7ac-4460-a0eb-8c2b3fccf821
Lasserson, Dan
459f3712-411b-4867-a03c-ba9823f108aa
Hayward, Gail
cdcca43f-3ee3-4094-a16b-a51b1585e9ed
Moore, Abigail
d993e43e-fd67-45e9-88eb-9be04fd4667d
McKelvie, Sara
61c92fa0-fa9f-4d59-988d-6e669d8f8f32
Glogowska, Margaret
b6767d28-b7ac-4460-a0eb-8c2b3fccf821
Lasserson, Dan
459f3712-411b-4867-a03c-ba9823f108aa
Hayward, Gail
cdcca43f-3ee3-4094-a16b-a51b1585e9ed

Moore, Abigail, McKelvie, Sara, Glogowska, Margaret, Lasserson, Dan and Hayward, Gail (2020) Infection in older adults: a qualitative study of patient experience. British Journal of General Practice, 70 (694), e312-e321. (doi:10.3399/bjgp20X709397).

Record type: Article

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Infection is common in older adults. Serious infection has a high mortality rate and is associated with unplanned hospital admissions. Little is known about the factors that prompt older patients to seek medical advice when they may have an infection.

AIM: To explore the symptoms of infection from the perspective of older adults, and when and why older patients seek healthcare advice for a possible infection.

DESIGN AND SETTING: A qualitative interview study among adults aged ≥70 years with a clinical diagnosis of infection recruited from ambulatory care units in Oxford, UK.

METHOD: Interviews were semi-structured and based on a flexible topic guide. Participants were given the option to be interviewed with their carer. Thematic analysis was facilitated using NVivo (version 11).

RESULTS: A total of 28 participants (22 patients and six carers) took part. Patients (aged 70-92 years) had experienced a range of different infections. Several early non-specific symptoms were described (fever, feeling unwell, lethargy, vomiting, pain, and confusion/delirium). Internally minimising symptoms was common and participants with historical experience of infection tended to be better able to interpret their symptoms. Factors influencing seeking healthcare advice included prompts from family, specific or intolerable symptoms, symptom duration, and being unable to manage with self-care. For some, not wanting to be a burden affected their desire to seek help.

CONCLUSION: Tailored advice to older adults highlighting early symptoms of infection may be beneficial. Knowing whether patients have had previous experience of infection may help healthcare professionals in assessing older patients with possible infection.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 25 November 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 30 April 2020
Published date: May 2020
Additional Information: © British Journal of General Practice 2020.
Keywords: Aged, Frail elderly, Infection, Qualitative research

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 445705
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/445705
ISSN: 0960-1643
PURE UUID: f43cb96e-e554-4154-b596-fd6a925dbe68
ORCID for Sara McKelvie: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-3781-9813

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 06 Jan 2021 17:41
Last modified: 09 Jan 2022 04:11

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Contributors

Author: Abigail Moore
Author: Sara McKelvie ORCID iD
Author: Margaret Glogowska
Author: Dan Lasserson
Author: Gail Hayward

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