Communicating with older adults with long-term conditions about self-management goals: A systematic review and thematic synthesis

Michael T. Lawless, Phoebe Drioli-Phillips, Mandy M. Archibald, Rachel C. Ambagtsheer, Alison L. Kitson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To synthesise a body of fine-grained observational research on communication between healthcare professionals (HCPs), older adults, and carers regarding self-management goals and actions. Methods: We conducted a systematic review, searching nine electronic databases and the grey literature. Two reviewers independently selected for inclusion following a two-stage process and studies and discrepancies were resolved through consultation with the review team. Results: 898 records were retrieved, and eight studies were included in the review. Aggregative thematic analysis resulted in 13 categories of communication practices across three decision-making domains: (1) initiating: actions occurring prior to the commitment point; (2) proposing: putting forward a course of action; and (3) committing and closing: committing (or not) to the course of action. Conclusions: Despite an increasing emphasis on the importance of personalised care planning and shared decision-making (SDM) to support older people's health and wellbeing, HCPs did not consistently practice this approach and, in some cases, worked in opposition to it. Practice implications: We encourage HCPs to prepare older adults to engage actively with SDM and the goal setting process by employing patient-centred communication resources. These could assist with identifying different types of goals that are realistic and relevant to patients in daily life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2439-2452
Number of pages14
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number10
Early online date20 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Aged
  • Chronic illness and disease
  • Conversation analysis
  • Frail elderly
  • Health communication
  • Qualitative research
  • Self-Management
  • Shared decision-making
  • Systematic review


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