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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Relation between illness representation and self-reported degree-of-worry in patients calling out-of-hours services: a mixed-methods study in Copenhagen, Denmark

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OBJECTIVES: To examine the relation between patients' illness representations, presented in telephone consultation to out-of-hours (OOH) services, and self-reported degree-of-worry (DOW), as a measure of self-evaluated urgency. If a clear relation is found, incorporating DOW during telephone triage could aid the triage process, potentially increasing patient safety.

DESIGN: A convergent parallel mixed methods design with quantitative data; DOW and qualitative data from recorded telephone consultations. Thematic analysis of the qualitative data was used to explore the content of the quantitatively scaled DOW, using the Common-Sense Model of Self-Regulation (CSM).

SETTING: A convenience sampling of calls to the OOH services in Copenhagen, Denmark, during 3 days was included in the study.

PARTICIPANTS: Calls from adults (≥15 years of age) concerning somatic illness during the data collection period were eligible for inclusion. Calls made on behalf of another person, calls concerning perceived life-threatening illness or calls regarding logistical/practical problems were excluded, resulting in analysis of 180 calls.

RESULTS: All five components of the CSM framework, regardless of DOW, were present in the data. All callers referred to identity and timeline and were least likely to refer to consequence (37%). Through qualitative analysis, themes were defined. Callers with a strong identity, illness duration of less than 24 hours, clear cause and solution for cure/control seemed to present a lower DOW. Callers with a medium identity, illness duration of more than 24 hours and a high consequence seemed to present a higher DOW.

CONCLUSION: This study suggests a relation between a patient's illness representation and self-evaluation of urgency. Incorporating a patient's DOW during telephone triage could aid the triage process in determining urgency and type of healthcare needed, potentially increasing patient safety. Research on patient outcome after DOW-assisted triage is needed before implementation of the DOW scale is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Open
Volume8
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)e020401
ISSN2044-6055
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2018

ID: 55347065