Background: This study aimed to investigate patients’ experiences, beliefs and understandings of the current secondary care of patients with multiple chronic conditions (MCC) in the Netherlands.
Methods: A qualitative, interpretative description design was used. We conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with patients with MCC, who visited at least two physicians in Gelre Hospitals for at least two appointments in the previous year. After eight interviews data saturation was achieved.
Results: Being a patient with MCC in the hospital can be complex and keeping an overview required effort, according to the participants. Most participants would appreciate more coordination and communication. However, the exact needs seemed to differ. The multiple visits transformed them into experienced patients: based on their experiences and observations they developed strategies to sustain themselves in the hospital. Different types of communication (an important, overarching
theme) evoked specific feelings and expectations that were important for the patients’ care experiences as well.
Conclusion: An overview of patient care seems an essential element for a more coordinated, individualised approach to care. Future research might focus on ways to engage both healthcare professionals and patients in the improvement of care. It could aim to find ways to create an overview and coordination, and define responsibilities, but also to clarify which groups of patients need assistance. It might also investigate the effect of good and clear communication on reducing obstacles that patients perceive when dealing with healthcare situations. Overall, also in the future, patients’ care experiences could play an important role in determining the direction of new interventions.