Within modern health care, much attention is given to the tasks of identifying patient preferences and then delivering health care services accordingly. Standardised solutions are not always acceptable to patients with divergent needs and preferences, and the growing number of treatment alternatives makes patient participation increasingly important. In order to identify individual preferences for choice and shared decision making, a survey was conducted among 1543 primary care patients in Sweden. As suggested by earlier work, special attention was paid to the strong link between patient preferences and age. Results show both similarities and differences in attitudes among young and old patient groups, and differences could be explained by a combination of life-cycle effects, cohort effects and expectations ensuing from the need for future health care contacts. Copyright © 2000 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.
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