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עמוד בית
Tue, 16.07.24

Original Articles

IMAJ | volume

Journal 11, November 2001
pages: 822-827

Medical Care Perceptions in Elderly Patients with Musculoskeletal Complaints


    Background: Musculoskeletal complaints represent the second most common reason for visits to a physician, second only to the common cold. The limited capability of medical treatment for musculoskeletal disease requires modification of communication with patients by attending to their perception of the disease.

    Objectives: To assess patients’ satisfaction with care provided by their primary physicians, and the relationship of patients' satisfaction to their expectations of that care, perceptions of physician performance, and perceived severity of musculoskeletal disease.

    Methods: Questionnaires were administered to 90 community-dwelling elderly patients (mean age 76+-8 years) presenting for follow-up appointments with their primary care physicians. Patients were asked to report on their satisfaction with the medical care provided by the primary physicians for musculoskeletal symptoms, their expectations of that care, their perceptions of their primary physicians' interaction (regarding competence, performance, and communication), and their perceptions of disease severity (based on the number of areas involved, pain frequency and intensity, and impact on daily activity). The effects on the degree of satisfaction were assessed with regard to demographic variables, co-morbidity, site involved, and response to recommended treatment.

    Results: Most patients (> 85%) expressed overall satisfaction with their doctor's interpersonal skills. Fewer (76.9%) were satisfied with the amount of effort their doctors spend evaluating their musculoskeletal symptoms, the information received regarding their musculoskeletal symptoms (75%), the degree of pain relief (75%), and the degree of functional improvement (61.8%). Level of education and response to recommended treatment for musculoskeletal disease were the only parameters associated with degree of satisfaction (higher education P = 0.005, lower education P = 0.059, medication P = 0.008, rehabilitation P = 0.076). A high level of expectations (regarding physician's care and musculoskeletal disease treatment) was noted.

    Conclusions: The high level of patient satisfaction with their primary physicians' care for musculoskeletal symptoms may reflect the overall tendency of the elderly population to be satisfied with its primary care physicians. However, their high level of expectations (related to perceived efficacy of medical treatment) and their unrealistic perceptions of disease may lead to disappointment and non-compliance with their doctor's recommendations. Management of musculoskeletal disease in the elderly should address the patients’ disease perceptions, as well as their therapeutic and functional needs.


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