Objectives: Despite the recent emphasis on a patient-centered chronic care model, few studies have investigated its use in older adults in South Korea. We explored how older Korean adults perceive and cope with their chronic illness. Methods: We conducted focus group interviews in Seoul, Korea in January 2010. Focus groups were formed by disease type (hypertension and type 2 diabetes) and gender using purposive sampling. Inclusion criteria were patients aged 60 and over who had been diagnosed with diabetes or hypertension and received care at a community health center for at least six months prior to participation. Interview data were analyzed through descriptive content analysis. Results: Among personal factors, most participants felt overwhelmed when they received their diagnosis. However, with time and control of their acute symptoms using medication, their worry diminished and participants tended to denying being identified as a patient or sick person. Among socio-familial factors, participants reported experiencing stigma with their chronic illness and feeling it was a symbol of weakness. Instead of modifying their lifestyles, which might interfere with their social relationships, they resorted to only following their medicine regime prescribed by their doctor. Participants also reported feeling that their doctor only prescribed medications and acted in an authoritative and threatening manner to induce and reinforce participants' compliance with treatment. Conclusions: For successful patient-centered management of chronic illnesses, supportive environments that include family, friends, and healthcare providers should be established.
- Chronic disease