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Title: Symptoms in the community : prevalence, management and preferences for care in a UK working-age population
Author: McAteer, Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2707 3576
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2011
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Introduction: Symptom prevalence and management have important implications for the use of healthcare services, as well as the health of individuals. Aim: To describe symptom prevalence and management in the UK and to investigate decision-making and preferences for care. Methods: Two questionnaire surveys were undertaken: 1) a symptom survey of 8,000 working-age adults in the UK, 2) a discrete choice experiment (DCE) with 1,370 respondents to the symptom survey. Results: Symptom survey - Over 75% of respondents experienced at least one symptom in the last two weeks (mean 3.7). The two-week prevalence of symptoms varied from 0.2% for coughing-up blood to 41.3% for feeling tired/run down. Prevalence of specific symptoms was associated with a number of participant characteristics. The most common response to symptoms was doing nothing at all (49%) followed by over-the-counter medicine use (25%). Approximately 8% consulted a GP, while use of other members of the primary-care team (pharmacist, nurse, complementary practitioner and NHS24/NHSDirect) was very small (<2%). Symptom characteristics were more commonly associated with actions taken than participant characteristics. DCE - Significant differences were found for three symptom scenarios of increasing seriousness (diarrhoea, dizziness and chest pain). Self-care was the preferred option for diarrhoea. Consulting a GP was the preferred option for dizziness and chest pain. For all symptom scenarios there was a preference for less waiting time, less cost, greater convenience/availability and a very good chance of a satisfactory outcome. These preferences were valued more highly as the seriousness of the symptom scenario increased. Respondents were willing to trade between different attributes, with waiting time and chance of a satisfactory outcome being the attributes most likely to influence preferences for different actions. Conclusion: Further research is required to examine the public’s knowledge and perceptions of the services offered by different members of the primary care team for managing symptoms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Primary care (Medicine)