Schwarz, Tanja; Schmidt, Andrea E.; Bobek, Julia; Ladurner, Joy (2022): Barriers to accessing health care for people with chronic conditions: a qualitative interview study. BMC Health Services Research, 22 (1). ISSN 1472-6963

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BACKGROUND: There is a growing interest in redesigning healthcare systems to increase access to and coordination across care settings for people with chronic conditions. We aim to gain a better understanding of the barriers faced by (1) children with chronic bronchial asthma, (2) adults with non-specific chronic back pain, and (3) older people with pre-existing mental illness/es in Austria’s fragmented social health insurance system. *** METHODS: Using a qualitative design, we conducted semi-structured interviews face-to-face and by telephone with health service providers, researchers, experts by experience (persons with lived/ personal experience, i.e., service users, patient advocates or family members/carers), and employees in public health administration between July and October 2019. The analysis and interpretation of data were guided by Levesque’s model of access, a conceptual framework used to evaluate access broadly according to different dimensions of accessibility to care: approachability, acceptability, availability and accommodation, affordability, and appropriateness. *** RESULTS: The findings from the 25 expert interviews were organised within Levesque’s conceptual framework. They highlight a lack of coordination and defined patient pathways, particularly at the onset of the condition, when seeking a diagnosis, and throughout the care process. On the supply side, patterns of poor patient-provider communication, lack of a holistic therapeutic approach, an urban-rural divide, strict separation between social care and the healthcare system and limited consultation time were among the barriers identified. On the demand side, patients’ ability to perceive a need and to subsequently seek and reach healthcare services was an important barrier, closely linked to a patient’s socio-economic status, health literacy and ability to pay. *** CONCLUSIONS: While studies on unmet needs suggest a very low level of barriers to accessing health care in the Austrian context, our study highlights potential ‘invisible’ barriers. Barriers to healthcare access are of concern for patients with chronic conditions, underlining existing findings about the need to improve health services according to patients’ specific needs. Research on how to structure timely and integrated care independent of social and economic resources, continuity of care, and significant improvements in patient-centred communication and coordination of care would be paramount.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Healthcare access Barriers Chronic conditions Multimorbidity Integrated care Asthma in children Chronic back pain Mental illness Older people Austria
Subjects: OEBIG > Gesundheit, Gesellschaft und Chancengerechtigkeit
OEBIG > Gesundheitsoekonomie und –systemanalyse
OEBIG > Psychosoziale Gesundheit
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2022 08:16
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2022 08:17