Journal of Primary Health Care Journal of Primary Health Care Society
Journal of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners

Just Accepted

This article has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. It is in production and has not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.

The social networks of patients with multimorbidity: a qualitative study of patients’ and supporters’ views

Eileen McKinlay , Janet McDonald , Ben Darlow , Meredith Perry


Aim Multimorbidity impacts on patients’ health and wellbeing; however, relationships experienced within social networks can support people to live well. This study sought to elicit the views of New Zealanders with multimorbidity about their social networks and similarly the views of their nominated supporters. Methods Ten patients with multimorbidity and their nominated supporters each independently recorded their views of the patient’s social network on a five-concentric-circle template indicating supporting role and importance to the patient. Sets of patients’ and nominated supporters’ templates were compared followed by matching pairs of patient/supporter templates. Nominated supporters’ views about the patients’ networks and why they were nominated were collated. Results Three patients nominated family members as supporters and the balance nominated health professionals. Nominated family members identified a greater range of supporters than nominated health professionals. Nominated family members perceived that they played an integral role, whereas health professionals were less comfortable viewing relationships with patients in this way. Family members were not surprised to be nominated as supporters and some described a considerable burden of care; health professionals described themselves as being coordinators of support and having positive relationships with patients. Discussion Patients with multimorbidity generally have rich and diverse social networks. They view partners, family and health professionals as providing significant support. Family members are more aware of their role and have deeper understanding of other network members than health professionals. Further research is needed on the use of social networks in clinical practice to support the health and wellbeing of those with needed about how information on social networks can be gathered and used in clinical practice to support the health and wellbeing of those with multimorbidity.

HC16062  Accepted 15 March 2017

© CSIRO 2017