For older persons with two or more chronic diseases (multiple chronic conditions) insight into what they
perceive as important in their lives is essential when discussing preferences in the shared decision making process. The aims of this
study were to 1) investigate the personal views on the ageing process communicated by older persons and 2) compare the personal
views of older persons with and without multiple chronic conditions.
Using structured interviews participants were asked
five questions about what they perceived as important in terms of ageing, worries, their future, healthy ageing and quality of
life. Two independent researchers coded the data and performed content analyses. A stratified content analysis was performed
to explore whether persons with and without multiple chronic conditions expressed different personal views with regard to the
Participants & setting:
547 community dwelling older persons aged 70 years and above.
The mean (SD) age was 78.9 (5.9) years, and 60.3% were female. Multiple chronic conditions were present in 72% of the study sample. There were no significant differences in demographic characteristics between persons with and without multiple chronic conditions .
However persons with multiple chronic conditions more often had polypharmacy (43% vs 24%; p<0.001), more difficulties with
(instrumental) activities of daily living (mean number of impairments 2.4 vs 0.8; p< 0.001) and reported more falls (35% vs 23% p = 0.01) than those without multiple chronic conditions. The qualitative analysis identified the following main themes: ageing
was associated with acceptance of ageing, (further) deterioration and worries about limitations and family. A healthy lifestyle,
keeping busy, maintaining social contacts and a positive attitude were considered prerequisites to healthy ageing. In 24 out of
28 sub-themes no significant differences were found between participants with and without multiple chronic conditions (MCC).
Persons with multiple chronic conditions more often expressed that ageing for them meant having to cope with deterioration
and limitations, they had more worries and feared more deteriorations compared to those without multiple chronic conditions. Also persons with multiple chronic conditions less often considered a positive attitude to life a prerequisite to healthy ageing.
Acceptance of ageing, (further) deterioration and worries about limitations and family were important themes on
the ageing process communicated by older persons. Overall, we found no major differences between persons with and without
multiple chronic conditions. The results of this study may help raising awareness amongst health care professionals that eliciting
and understanding an older persons’ views on the ageing process is an important first step in making health decisions that support
older persons’ personal goals and expectations.