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Self-care for Minor Illness: People's Experiences and Needs
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Health Sciences.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Egenvård vid lindrig sjukdom. : Personers erfarenheter och behov (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

During later years, the primary care services are experiencing a heavier strain in terms of increasing expenses and higher demand for medical services. An increased awareness about pharmaceutical adverse effects and the global concern of antibiotic resistance has given self-care and active surveillance a stronger position within the primary care services. The management strategy for minor illnesses is important because care-seekers tend to repeat successful strategies from past events, and past experience with self-care drives future self-care practices. The overall aim of this thesis was to explore people’s experiences and needs when practicing self-care and receiving self-care advice for minor illnesses. This was achieved by studying people’s experiences with and knowledge of minor illnesses, self-care interventions and channels of information used when providing self-care for minor illness. Needs for confidence in self-care were studied, as well as supporting and obstructing factors in the practice of self-care. Satisfaction with telephone nursing and people’s experiences of reassurance in relation to the decision-making process in self-care for minor illness was explored. The results showed that experience correlated with self-rated knowledge of the condition, and the least common conditions most often generated a health care services consultation. To confidently practice self-care people needed good knowledge and understanding about obtaining symptom relief. Younger persons more often reported the need of having family or friends to talk to. Easy access to care was most often reported as a support in self-care, and a lack of knowledge about illnesses was most often reported as obstructing self-care. Care-seekers receiving self-care advice were less satisfied with the telephone nursing than care-seekers referred to medical care, and feeling reassured after the call was the most important factor influencing satisfaction. Self-care advice had a constricting influence on healthcare utilization, with 66.1% of the cases resulting in a lower level of care than first intended. The course of action that persons in self-care decided on was found to relate to uncertainty and perception of risk. Reassurance had the potential to allay doubts and fears to confidence, thereby influencing self-care and consultation behavior. In conclusion, symptoms of minor illness can cause uncertainty and concern, and reassurance is an important factor influencing people’s course of action when afflicted with minor illness. The nurse constitutes a calming force, and the encounter between the nurse and the care-seeker holds a unique possibility of reassurance and confidence that minor illness is self-limiting to its nature and that effective interventions can provide relief and comfort. Just as health is more than the absence of disease, self-care is more than the absence of medical care.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2016.
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology 1 jan 1997 → …, ISSN 1402-1544
Keyword [en]
Self-care, Self-care advice, Minor illness, Information channels, Telephone nursing, Reassurance, Confidence, Satisfaction, Nursing, Self-care interventions
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-361ISBN: 978-91-7583-692-8ISBN: 978-91-7583-693-5 (pdf)OAI: diva2:974910
Public defence
2016-10-28, D770, Luleå tekniska universitet, Luleå, 10:00
Available from: 2016-09-28 Created: 2016-09-28 Last updated: 2016-10-07Bibliographically approved

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Gustafsson, Silje
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