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A walking stick in one hand and a chainsaw in the other: Patients’ perspectives of living with multimorbidity

AIMS: Multimorbidity is common, yet there are major gaps in research, particularly among younger and indigenous populations. This research aimed to understand patients’ perspectives of living with multimorbidity. METHODS: A qualitative study of 61 people living with multimorbidity, 27 of whom were Māori and a third aged under 65, from urban and rural regions in New Zealand. Six focus groups and 14 interviews were conducted, recorded, transcribed and analysed. RESULTS: For many participants, living with multimorbidity disrupted their ‘normal’ lives, posing challenges in everyday activities such as eating and toileting, working and managing medications. Dealing with the health system posed challenges such as accessing appointments and having enough time in consultations. Cultural competency, good communication and continuity of care from healthcare providers were all valued. Participants had many recommendations to improve management, including a professional single point of contact to coordinate all specialist care. CONCLUSIONS: Living with multimorbidity is often challenging requiring people to manage their conditions while continuing to live their lives. This research suggests changes are needed in the health system in New Zealand and elsewhere to better manage multimorbidity thus improving patient’s lives and reducing costs to the health sector and wider society.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Signal, L., Semper, K., Stairmand, J., Davies, C., Millar, E., Dowell, T., … Sarfati, D. (2017). A walking stick in one hand and a chainsaw in the other: Patients’ perspectives of living with multimorbidity. New Zealand Medical Journal, 130(1455), 65–76.
This article is published in the New Zealand Medical Journal. © NZMA. Used with permission.