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A caring partnership: expectations of ageing persons with disabilities for their primary care doctors.


The population of individuals who are ageing with a disability is growing rapidly, yet we know little about their views of their primary care and family physicians.

In this qualitative study using a modified form of life history interviewing, 30 older respondents with a variety of disabilities discussed their past and current relationships with physicians.

Data analysis identified as the primary theme of these interviews the importance of establishing a caring partnership between patient and physician. Important subthemes included physician avoidance of assumptions and stereotypes about persons with disabilities, physician commitment to patient well-being balanced by a capacity for keeping the disability in perspective, and the relationship between the need for physician specialized knowledge and the necessity of acknowledging patient expertise. Certain patient characteristics such as self-reliance and assertiveness also emerged as significant influences.

A partnership with primary care/family physicians that communicates concern while avoiding stereotyping and recognizing patient expertise is important for many patients ageing with a disability.

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