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.
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.
General practices across four counties in southern England.
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.
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.
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.