Understanding What Is Most Important to Individuals with Multiple Chronic Conditions: A Qualitative Study of Patients’ Perspectives

Catherine Y. Lim*, Andrew B.L. Berry, Tad Hirsch, Andrea L. Hartzler, Edward H. Wagner, Evette J. Ludman, James D. Ralston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Background: To improve care for individuals living with multiple chronic conditions, patients and providers must align care planning with what is most important to patients in their daily lives. We have a limited understanding of how to effectively encourage communication about patients’ personal values during clinical care. Objective: To identify what patients with multiple chronic conditions describe as most important to their well-being and health. Design: We interviewed individuals with multiple chronic conditions in their homes and analyzed results qualitatively, guided by grounded theory. Participants: A total of 31 patients (mean age 68.7 years) participated in the study, 19 of which included the participation of family members. Participants were from Kaiser Permanente Washington, an integrated health care system in Washington state. Approach: Qualitative analysis of home visits, which consisted of semi-structured interviews aided by photo elicitation. Key Results: Analysis revealed six domains of what patients described as most important for their well-being and health: principles, relationships, emotions, activities, abilities, and possessions. Personal values were interrelated and rarely expressed as individual values in isolation. Conclusions: The domains describe the range and types of personal values multimorbid older adults deem important to well-being and health. Understanding patients’ personal values across these domains may be useful for providers when developing, sharing, and following up on care plans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1278-1284
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • chronic disease
  • communication
  • comorbidity
  • qualitative research
  • values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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