“If she recommends it, I would have it”. A qualitative study of nonagenarians’ perspectives of their health status and healthcare

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Ross Edward Grant Upshur
Cecile Bensimon
James Westcott
Stephanie Bell
C. Shawn Tracy


In the developed world, the population is rapidly aging. Primary care physicians will be called upon to deliver person-centred care to this population. However, current models of care are poorly adapted to the needs of the very old and an adequate evidence base does not exist. We conducted a qualitative study to elicit and explore the perceptions of nonagenarians who attend a primary care clinic in Ontario, Canada. Saturation was achieved after 13 interviews. The key themes identified were, positive self-perception of health status trust in the primary care physician, fear of ageism in the healthcare system, and limits to care. The trust in the competency of the primary care physician may be misplaced given the paucity of available evidence on appropriate outcome measures in this population. Ageism should be countered by creating systems of person-centered care that focus specifically on the needs of the very old in primary care.

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