Unmet healthcare needs for older people attending the outpatients’ clinics of a university hospital in Cairo, Egypt: a qualitative study

Document Type : Original Article


Public Health and Community Medicine Department, Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt


Background: Egypt is experiencing significant changes in age structure mostly among the older population, which is expected to quadruple over the period 2010–2050. There is no easy, quick-fix recipe for elders’ health needs assessment. Qualitative methods are required to explain what is already known. This study aimed to assess the unmet healthcare needs of the elders attending the outpatients’ clinics of the Cairo University Hospital.
Patients and Methods: A qualitative design with a thematic content analysis of semistructured interviews was used to assess the unmet healthcare needs of elders above 60 years of age, attending the outpatients’ clinics of Cairo University Hospital.
Results: The most bothersome complaints were the overcrowding and abnormally long waiting times followed by the falsely claimed free of charge governmental services. Besides, the lack of outpatient long-term management was coupled with the fact that some of the needed health services were unavailable, not easily accessible, and insufficient. Moreover, worthless dealing was the most prominent theme in patients’ opinions regarding bad healthcare providers, starting from verbal or nonverbal aggression and prejudice to inadequate information provision for the improvement of elders’ health.
Conclusion: Problems facing older patients in the outpatients’ clinics included lack of follow-up services, fractional treatment by the health providers, and absence of internal complaints mechanism. Their suggestions for improvement focused on improving the communication skills of healthcare providers and establishing continuity of the care system. Inevitable improvements in the clinics’ services include: establishment of a geriatric clinic with a multidisciplinary clinical team in addition to enhancing communication and health education with the elders, negotiating to arrive at the best therapeutic options, and fostering motivation and skills needed for self-care.