WEIGHING THE RISKS: PATIENT PERSPECTIVES ON SELF-CARE IN THE MANAGEMENT OF OSTEOPOROSIS
 
Moyle, J., Curtin University of Technology, Australia
 
Osteoporosis is a significant and growing public health issue affecting up to one in two women and one in three men over the age of 60. This poster presentation discusses the core issues relating to patient self-care in the management of this debilitating disease, drawing on the findings from a larger, exploratory study on the experience of men and women with osteoporosis. Using a qualitative approach, twenty in-depth interviews were conducted with men and women who had been diagnosed with osteoporosis. The interviews were transcribed and analysed, using interpretative phenomenological analysis, to reveal the way patients use self-care behaviour to influence their own illness trajectories. The findings illuminate the tensions and conflicts faced by patients as they constantly weigh the risks of various treatment options in their attempts to stem the progression of the disease. In order to effectively manage their illness, patients are confronted by a complex treatment regimen involving daily routines of medication, dietary supplementation and load-bearing exercise. Lack of specific information about their prognosis or the efficacy of treatment and its long-term side effects, and a fear of sustaining a fall or fracture through normal activity contributes to the climate of uncertainty in which patients must make decisions regarding their own daily care. The implications for current health care practices in the treatment of osteoporosis are outlined and the relevance of the health consumer perspective to health promotion and treatment practices in the management of chronic illnesses is highlighted.