Introduction Increasing numbers of older people are living with multiple long-term health conditions but global healthcare systems and clinical guidelines have traditionally focused on the management of single conditions. Having two or more long-term conditions, or ‘multimorbidity’, is associated with a range of adverse consequences and poor outcomes and could put patients at increased risk of safety failures. Traditionally, most research into patient safety failures has explored hospital or inpatient settings. Much less is known about patient safety failures in primary care. Our core aims are to understand the mechanisms by which multimorbidity leads to safety failures, to explore the different ways in which patients and services respond (or fail to respond), and to identify opportunities for intervention.
Methods and analysis We plan to undertake an applied ethnographic study of patients with multimorbidity. Patients’ interactions and environments, relevant to their healthcare, will be studied through observations, diary methods and semistructured interviews. A framework, based on previous studies, will be used to organise the collection and analysis of field notes, observations and other qualitative data. This framework includes the domains: access breakdowns, communication breakdowns, continuity of care errors, relationship breakdowns and technical errors.
Ethics and dissemination Ethical approval was received from the National Health Service Research Ethics Committee for Wales. An individual case study approach is likely to be most fruitful for exploring the mechanisms by which multimorbidity leads to safety failures. A longitudinal and multiperspective approach will allow for the constant comparison of patient, carer and healthcare worker expectations and experiences related to the provision, integration and management of complex care. This data will be used to explore ways of engaging patients and carers more in their own care using shared decision-making, patient empowerment or other relevant models.
- QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
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