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Qual Health Res. 2011 Nov;21(11):1469-83. doi: 10.1177/1049732311412788. Epub 2011 Jun 17.

Curing and caring: the work of primary care physicians with dementia patients.

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  • 1University of California, Davis, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA.


The symbolic framework guiding primary care physicians' (PCPs) practice is crucial in shaping the quality of care for those with degenerative dementia. Examining the relationship between the cure and care models in primary care offers a unique opportunity for exploring change toward a more holistic approach to health care. The aims of this study were to (a) explore how PCPs approach the care of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), and (b) describe how this care unfolds from the physicians' perspectives. This was a cross-sectional study of 40 PCPs who completed semistructured interviews as part of a dementia caregiving study. Findings show that PCPs recognize the limits of the cure paradigm and articulate a caring, more holistic model that addresses the psychosocial needs of dementia patients. However, caring is difficult to uphold because of time constraints, emotional burden, and jurisdictional issues. Thus, the care model remains secondary and temporary.

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