The experiences of selfcare in community-dwelling older people: a meta-synthesis

The experiences of selfcare in community-dwelling older people: a meta-synthesis


To identify, critically appraise and synthesize qualitative evidence of self-care experiences in health promotion for home-dwelling elders.


A meta-synthesis was conducted following the Joanna Briggs Institute guidelines and using Qualitative Assessment and Review Instrument Software.

Data sources

The literature search was conducted on PubMed, CINHAL, Embase, PsycInfo, Eric and ILISI databases from inception up until March 2015. Other articles were searched on Scopus and Web of Knowledge. The reference list of all the identified articles was also searched for additional studies. Studies published in English, Italian, French, Portuguese, and Spanish were considered for inclusion in the review.

Review methods

Data from the selected qualitative articles were extracted independently by two reviewers using the data extraction tool of the Joanna Briggs Institute-Qualitative Assessment and Review Instrument. The meta-synthesis involved the following three steps: the production of a set of statements representing the aggregated data obtained by assembling the findings of qualitative studies; the categorization of findings on the basis of similarity in meaning; and the aggregation of these categories to produce a comprehensive set of synthesized findings. No studies were excluded due to methodological quality.


 Of the 4001 records identified, 11 articles met the inclusion criteria. Most articles were conducted in Scandinavian countries and used a phenomenological design. Most elders in the sample were middle-class, cognitively intact, independent, and in good health. The meta-synthesis revealed that older people living at home make decisions about their self-care activities on the basis of their attitudes toward their life and future. These self-care activities are directed toward holistic wellness, prevention and treatment of aging effects, obtaining a sense of satisfaction, and self-realization. Furthermore, self-care activities are settled in a social and relational network that allows old people to take care of themselves and of others or to be cared for by others.


This meta-synthesis presents the perspectives of home-dwelling old people on health-promoting self-care experiences. Such information can help healthcare professionals to maintain long-term autonomy of elders in self-care and to promote healthy aging. Further qualitative research describing self-care experiences of home-dwelling elders from different cultures, education levels, and social backgrounds is needed.


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