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The journey from self care to GP care: a qualitative interview study of women presenting with symptoms of urinary tract infection

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 16:24 authored by Geraldine M Leydon, Sheila Turner, Helen Smith, Paul Little
Background Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the commonest acute infections presenting to primary care. Little is known of women's experiences of UTI; self-care strategies and key triggers for their consulting behaviour are also little known. Aim To explore women's experiences of self-care and their journey to GP care, when faced with symptoms of a UTI. Design of study Qualitative semi-structured interview study with women recruited to a larger UK trial of different management strategies for UTI. Setting General practices across four counties in southern England. Method Twenty-one women were interviewed about the experiences they had prior to their GP visit, self-care strategies, and triggers for help seeking. Interviews were analysed thematically, using principles of analytic induction. Results Women reported a process of evaluation, monitoring, re-evaluation, and, finally, consulting in order to meet their needs. Four key triggers for consulting were identified: failure to alleviate symptoms through self-care; symptom duration and escalation; impeding normal functioning and the fulfilment of social roles; and concern that it may be or become a serious illness. Conclusion Although UTI is often self-limiting, when taking patient histories and formulating their management strategies clinicians need to take into account women's often painful experience, their efforts to resolve symptoms prior to consulting, and their fears that the symptoms may indicate something more serious than a UTI.


Publication status

  • Published


British Journal of General Practice




Royal College of General Practitioners





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  • Primary Care and Public Health Publications

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Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

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