Understanding people's social lived experiences of chronic illness is fundamental to improving health service delivery and health outcomes, particularly in relation to self-management activity. In explorations of social lived experiences this paper uncovers the ways in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with chronic illness experience informal unsolicited support from peers and family members.
Nineteen Aboriginal and Torres Islander participants were interviewed in the Serious and Continuing Illness Policy and Practice Study (SCIPPS). Participants were people with Type 2 diabetes (N = 17), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (N = 3) and/or chronic heart failure (N = 11) and family carers (N = 3). Participants were asked to describe their experience of having or caring for someone with chronic illness. Content and thematic analysis of in-depth semi-structured interviews was undertaken, assisted by QSR Nvivo8 software.
Participants reported receiving several forms of unsolicited support, including encouragement, practical suggestions for managing, nagging, growling, and surveillance. Additionally, participants had engaged in 'yarning', creating a 'yarn' space, the function of which was distinguished as another important form of unsolicited support. The implications of recognising these various support forms are discussed in relation to responses to unsolicited support as well as the needs of family carers in providing effective informal support.
Certain locations of responsibility are anxiety producing. Family carers must be supported in appropriate education so that they can provide both solicited and unsolicited support in effective ways. Such educational support would have the added benefit of helping to reduce carer anxieties about caring roles and responsibilities. Mainstream health services would benefit from fostering environments that encourage informal interactions that facilitate learning and support in a relaxed atmosphere.
Aboriginal; Indigenous; chronic heart failure; chronic illness; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; diabetes; qualitative methods; self-management
Little is known about combining work with caring for a person with advanced illness. This is important given the increasing number of women in the workforce and current policy seeking to increase care in the community. The aim of this paper was to explore the meaning of work for women caring for a husband with an advanced illness and the consequences of combining these two roles.
A purposive sample of 15 carers was recruited from a hospital and from the community, via the patients they cared for. Their illnesses included chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, motor neurone disease, and heart failure. Data were collected through semi-structured, in-depth interviews that were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. A Grounded Theory approach was used and case studies were developed. NVivo software facilitated the management and analysis of the data.
Caring presented challenges to carers' work life. It diminished productivity or the quality of work, and led to missed opportunities for promotion. Work had an effect on the quality of care and the relationship with the patient, which eventually led to work being given up for caring. Three carers resisted the pressures to give up work and used it as a coping strategy.
A positive choice to remain in employment does not necessarily signal reluctance to care. Caring arrangements need to be understood from the common and separate interests of carers and the people they support.
BACKGROUND: Asthma continues to be a common childhood chronic illness managed principally in primary care. Self-management requires co-ordinated efforts of young people, carers and health professionals. Non-compliance occurs even when parents are supervising care, suggesting that decisions are made on the basis of beliefs that contrast with professional advice. Health professionals therefore need to understand the views of parents (or other carers) and patients to promote good self-management. Little attention has been given to carers' and young people's perspectives on asthma. AIM: To gain insights into the beliefs of a group of 25 young people aged nine to 16 years old and their carers about asthma and its management. DESIGN OF STUDY: Qualitative study using conversational-style interviews. SETTING: Generally deprived urban areas of Greater Manchester. METHOD: Interviews were conducted with 25 young people with asthma and separately with their carers. The interviews were analysed using the principles and procedures of grounded theory. RESULTS: Carers reported assessing asthma symptoms through observed effects on the child and other family members, including emotions and behaviours that disrupted family life. Young people emphasised the effect of asthma on their everyday lives and in particular the extent to which they appeared different to their peers. Some young people reported continuing symptoms and restrictions of activity that differed widely from the reports of their carers. CONCLUSION: Differences between young people's and carers' criteria for assessment suggest explanations for some 'non-compliant' behaviour. Carers' assessment of asthma severity through the absence of acute attacks is consistent with managing asthma as intermittent acute episodes. Professionals should take account of differences between young people's, carers' and professionals' perceptions of asthma.
Chronic illness and disability can have damaging, even catastrophic, socioeconomic effects on individuals and their households. We examined the experiences of people affected by chronic heart failure, complicated diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to inform patient centred policy development. This paper provides a first level, qualitative understanding of the economic impact of chronic illness.
Interviews were conducted with patients aged between 45 and 85 years who had one or more of the index conditions and family carers from the Australian Capital Territory and Western Sydney, Australia (n = 66). Content analysis guided the interpretation of data.
The affordability of medical treatments and care required to manage illness were identified as the key aspects of economic hardship, which compromised patients' capacity to proactively engage in self-management and risk reduction behaviours. Factors exacerbating hardship included ineligibility for government support, co-morbidity, health service flexibility, and health literacy. Participants who were on multiple medications, from culturally and linguistically diverse or Indigenous backgrounds, and/or not in paid employment, experienced economic hardship more harshly and their management of chronic illness was jeopardised as a consequence. Economic hardship was felt among not only those ineligible for government financial supports but also those receiving subsidies that were insufficient to meet the costs of managing long-term illness over and above necessary daily living expenses.
This research provides insights into the economic stressors associated with managing chronic illness, demonstrating that economic hardship requires households to make difficult decisions between care and basic living expenses. These decisions may cause less than optimal health outcomes and increased costs to the health system. The findings support the necessity of a critical analysis of health, social and welfare policies to identify cross-sectoral strategies to alleviate such hardship and improve the affordability of managing chronic conditions. In a climate of global economic instability, research into the economic impact of chronic illness on individuals' health and well-being and their disease management capacity, such as this study, provides timely evidence to inform policy development.
Objectives To understand the perspectives of people with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as their illness progresses, and of their informal and professional carers, to inform provision of care for people living and dying with COPD.
Design Up to four serial qualitative interviews were conducted with each patient and nominated carer over 18 months. Interviews were transcribed and analysed both thematically and as narratives.
Participants 21 patients, and 13 informal carers (a family member, friend, or neighbour) and 18 professional carers (a key health or social care professional) nominated by the patients.
Setting Primary and secondary care in Lothian, Tayside, and Forth Valley, Scotland, during 2007-9.
Results Eleven patients died during the study period. Our final dataset comprised 92 interviews (23 conducted with patient and informal carer together). Severe symptoms that caused major disruption to normal life were described, often in terms implying acceptance of the situation as a “way of life” rather than an “illness.” Patients and their informal carers adapted to and accepted the debilitating symptoms of a lifelong condition. Professional carers’ familiarity with the patients’ condition, typically over many years, and prognostic uncertainty contributed to the difficulty of recognising and actively managing end stage disease. Overall, patients told a “chaos narrative” of their illness that was indistinguishable from their life story, with no clear beginning and an unanticipated end described in terms comparable with attitudes to death in a normal elderly population.
Conclusions Our findings challenge current assumptions underpinning provision of end of life care for people with COPD. The policy focus on identifying a time point for transition to palliative care has little resonance for people with COPD or their clinicians and is counter productive if it distracts from early phased introduction of supportive care. Careful assessment of possible supportive and palliative care needs should be triggered at key disease milestones along a lifetime journey with COPD, in particular after hospital admission for an exacerbation.
The integration of mental health and social services for people diagnosed with severe mental illness (SMI) has been a key aspect of attempts to reform mental health services in the UK and aims to minimise user and carer distress and confusion arising from service discontinuities. Community mental health teams (CMHTs) are a key component of UK policy for integrated service delivery, but implementing this policy has raised considerable organisational challenges. The aim of this study was to identify and explore facilitators and barriers perceived to influence continuity of care by health and social care professionals working in and closely associated with CMHTs.
This study employed a survey design utilising in-depth, semi-structured interviews with a proportionate, random sample of 113 health and social care professionals and representatives of voluntary organisations. Participants worked in two NHS Mental Health Trusts in greater London within eight adult CMHTs and their associated acute in-patient wards, six local general practices, and two voluntary organisations.
Team leadership, decision making, and experiences of teamwork support were facilitators for cross boundary and team continuity; face-to-face communication between teams, managers, general practitioners, and the voluntary sector were facilitators for information continuity. Relational, personal, and longitudinal continuity were facilitated in some local areas by workforce stability. Barriers for cross boundary and team continuity were specific leadership styles and models of decision making, blurred professional role boundaries, generic working, and lack of training for role development. Barriers for relational, personal, and longitudinal continuity were created by inadequate staffing levels, high caseloads, and administrative duties that could limit time spent with users. Incompatibility of information technology systems hindered information continuity. Flexible continuity was challenged by the increasingly complex needs of service users.
Substantive challenges exist in harnessing the benefits of integrated CMHT working to deliver continuity of care. Team support should be prioritised in terms of IT provision linked to a review of current models of administrative support. Investment in education and training for role development, leadership, workforce retention, and skills to meet service users' complex needs are recommended.
The management of health care, particularly for people with chronic conditions, combines the activities of health professionals, patients, informal carers and social networks that support them. Understanding the non-professional roles in health management requires information about the health related activities (HRA) that are undertaken by patients and informal carers. This understanding allows management planning that incorporates the capacity of patients and informal carers, as well as identifying the particular skills, knowledge and technical support that are necessary. This review was undertaken to identify how much time people with chronic illness and their informal carers spend on HRA.
Literature searches of three electronic databases (CINAHL, Medline, and PubMed) and two journals (Time and Society, Sociology of Health and Illness) were carried out in 2011 using the following search terms (and derivatives): chronic illness AND time AND consumer OR carer. The search was aimed at finding studies of time spent on HRA. A scoping literature review method was utilised.
Twenty-two peer reviewed articles published between 1990 and 2010 were included for review. The review identified limited but specific studies about time use by people with a chronic illness and/or their carers. While illness work was seen as demanding, few studies combined inquiry about both defined tasks and defined time use. It also identified methodological issues such as consistency of definition and data collection methods, which remain unresolved.
While HRA are seen as demanding by people doing them, few studies have measured actual time taken to carry out a comprehensive range of HRA. The results of this review suggest that both patients with chronic illness and informal carers may be spending 2 hours a day or more on HRA. Illnesses such as diabetes may be associated with higher time use. More empirical research is needed to understand the time demands of self-management, particularly for those affected by chronic illness.
Time; Time use; Health related; Chronic illness; Carer; Patient; Survey; Literature review
Decision aids are often used to assist individuals confronted with a diagnosis of a serious illness to make decisions about treatment options. However, they are rarely utilised to help those with chronic or age related conditions to make decisions about care services. Decision aids should also be useful for carers of people with decreased decisional capacity. These carers' choices must balance health outcomes for themselves and for salient others with relational and value-based concerns, while relying on information from health professionals. This paper reports on a study that both developed and pilot tested a decision aid aimed at assisting carers to make evaluative judgements of community services, particularly respite care.
A mixed method sequential study, involving qualitative development and a pilot randomised controlled trial, was conducted in Tasmania, Australia. We undertook 13 semi-structured interviews and three focus groups to inform the development of the decision aid. For the randomised control trial we randomly assigned 31 carers of people with dementia to either receive the service decision aid at the start or end of the study. The primary outcome was measured by comparing the difference in carer burden between the two groups three months after the intervention group received the decision aid. Pilot data was collected from carers using interviewer-administered questionnaires at the commencement of the project, two weeks and 12 weeks later.
The qualitative data strongly suggest that the intervention provides carers with needed decision support. Most carers felt that the decision aid was useful. The trial data demonstrated that, using the mean change between baseline and three month follow-up, the intervention group had less increase in burden, a decrease in decisional conflict and increased knowledge compared to control group participants.
While these results must be interpreted with caution due to the small sample size, all intervention results trend in a direction that is beneficial for carers and their decisional ability. Mixed method data suggest the decision aid provides decisional support that carers do not otherwise receive. Decision aids may prove useful in a community health services context.
Trial registration number
Decisional conflict; Decision aid; Dementia; Carer; Community services; Randomised-control trial; Qualitative
National cancer policies identify the improvement of care coordination as a priority to improve the delivery of health services for people with cancer. Identification of the current barriers to effective cancer care coordination is needed to drive service improvement.
A qualitative study was undertaken in which semi-structured individual interviews and focus groups were conducted with those best placed to identify issues; patients who had been treated for a range of cancers and their carers as well as health professionals involved in providing cancer care. Data collection continued until saturation of concepts was reached. A grounded theory influenced approach was used to explore the participants' experiences and views of cancer care coordination.
Overall, 20 patients, four carers and 29 health professionals participated. Barriers to cancer care coordination related to six aspects of care namely, recognising health professional roles and responsibilities, implementing comprehensive multidisciplinary team meetings, transitioning of care: falling through the cracks, inadequate communication between specialist and primary care, inequitable access to health services and managing scarce resources.
This study has identified a number of barriers to coordination of cancer care. Development and evaluation of interventions based on these findings is now required.
Patient involvement in health care is a strong political driver in the NHS. However in spite of policy prominence, there has been only limited previous work exploring patient involvement for people with serious mental illness.
To describe the views on, potential for, and types of patient involvement in primary care from the perspectives of primary care health professionals and patients with serious mental illness.
Design of study
Qualitative study consisting of six patient, six health professional and six combined focus groups between May 2002 and January 2003.
Six primary care trusts in the West Midlands, England.
Forty-five patients with serious mental illness, 39 GPs, and eight practice nurses participated in a series of 18 focus groups. All focus groups were audiotaped and fully transcribed. Nvivo was used to manage data more effectively.
Most patients felt that only other people with lived experience of mental illness could understand what they were going through. This experience could be used to help others navigate the health- and social-care systems, give advice about medication, and offer support at times of crisis. Many patients also saw paid employment within primary care as a way of addressing issues of poverty and social exclusion. Health professionals were, however, more reluctant to see patients as partners, be it in the consultation or in service delivery.
Meaningful change in patient involvement requires commitment and belief from primary care practitioners that the views and experiences of people with serious mental illness are valid and valuable.
consumer involvement; mental health; primary health care
Indigenous Australians experience disproportionately high prevalence of, and morbidity and mortality from chronic illness such as diabetes, renal disease and cardiovascular disease. Improving the understanding of how Indigenous primary care systems are organised to deliver chronic illness care will inform efforts to improve the quality of care for Indigenous people.
This cross-sectional study was conducted in 12 Indigenous communities in Australia's Northern Territory. Using the Chronic Care Model as a framework, we carried out a mail-out survey to collect information on material, financial and human resources relating to chronic illness care in participating health centres. Follow up face-to-face interviews with health centre staff were conducted to identify successes and difficulties in the systems in relation to providing chronic illness care to community members.
Participating health centres had distinct areas of strength and weakness in each component of systems: 1) organisational influence – strengthened by inclusion of chronic illness goals in business plans, appointment of designated chronic disease coordinators and introduction of external clinical audits, but weakened by lack of training in disease prevention and health promotion and limited access to Medicare funding; 2) community linkages – facilitated by working together with community organisations (e.g. local stores) and running community-based programs (e.g. "health week"), but detracted by a shortage of staff especially of Aboriginal health workers working in the community; 3) self management – promoted through patient education and goal setting with clients, but impeded by limited focus on family and community-based activities due to understaffing; 4) decision support – facilitated by distribution of clinical guidelines and their integration with daily care, but limited by inadequate access to and support from specialists; 5) delivery system design – strengthened by provision of transport for clients to health centres, separate men's and women's clinic rooms, specific roles of primary care team members in relation to chronic illness care, effective teamwork, and functional pathology and pharmacy systems, but weakened by staff shortage (particularly doctors and Aboriginal health workers) and high staff turnover; and 6) clinical information systems – facilitated by wide adoption of computerised information systems, but weakened by the systems' complexity and lack of IT maintenance and upgrade support.
Using concrete examples, this study translates the concept of the Chronic Care Model (and associated systems view) into practical application in Australian Indigenous primary care settings. This approach proved to be useful in understanding the quality of primary care systems for prevention and management of chronic illness. Further refinement of the systems should focus on both increasing human and financial resources and improving management practice.
Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) has a prevalence similar to asthma and chronic back pain, but little is known about how general practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses manage women with this problem. A clearer understanding of current management is necessary to develop appropriate strategies, in keeping with current health care policy, for the supported self-management of patients with long term conditions. The aim of this study was to explore GPs' and practice nurses' understanding and perspectives on the management of chronic pelvic pain.
Data were collected using semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 21 GPs and 20 practice nurses, in three primary care trusts in the North West of England. Data were analysed using the principles of Framework analysis.
Analysis suggests that women who present with CPP pose a challenge to GPs and practice nurses. CPP is not necessarily recognized as a diagnostic label and making the diagnosis was achieved only by exclusion. This contrasts with the relative acceptability of labels such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). GPs expressed elements of therapeutic nihilism about the condition. Despite practice nurses taking on increasing responsibilities for the management of patients with long term conditions, respondents did not feel that CPP was an area that they were comfortable in managing.
The study demonstrates an educational/training need for both GPs and practice nurses. GPs described a number of skills and clinical competencies which could be harnessed to develop a more targeted management strategy. There is potential to develop facilitated self- management for use in this patient group, given that this approach has been successful in patients with similar conditions such as IBS.
Self-management for chronic illness is a current high profile UK healthcare policy. Policy and clinical recommendations relating to chronic illnesses are framed within a language of lifestyle risk management. This article argues the enactment of risk within current UK self-management policy is intimately related to neo-liberal ideology and is geared towards population governance. The approach that dominates policy perspectives to ‘risk' management is critiqued for positioning people as rational subjects who calculate risk probabilities and act upon them. Furthermore this perspective fails to understand the lay person's construction and enactment of risk, their agenda and contextual needs when living with chronic illness. Of everyday relevance to lay people is the management of risk and uncertainty relating to social roles and obligations, the emotions involved when encountering the risk and uncertainty in chronic illness, and the challenges posed by social structural factors and social environments that have to be managed. Thus, clinical enactments of self-management policy would benefit from taking a more holistic view to patient need and seek to avoid solely communicating lifestyle risk factors to be self-managed.
risk; self-management; policy; neo-liberalism; lay-perspective
Improving the quality of care for patients living with a chronic illness is a key policy goal. Alongside systems to ensure care is delivered according to evidence-based guidelines, an essential component of these new models of care is the facilitation of self-management. However, changes to the way professionals deliver care is complex, and it is important to understand the key drivers and barriers that may operate in the primary care setting.
To explore GPs' perspectives on their involvement in the facilitation of chronic disease self-management.
Design of study
General practices located in two primary care trusts in northern England.
Data were collected through in-depth, semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of GPs. During analysis, categories of response were organised into themes that relate to Howie's theoretical model for understanding general practice consultations: content, values, context.
The GPs' responses highlighted tensions and trade-offs regarding their role in facilitating self-management. Although GPs valued increased patient involvement in their health care, this was in conflict with other values concerning professional responsibility. Furthermore, contextual factors also limited the degree to which they could assist in encouraging self-management.
Providing GPs with training in consultation skills is required in order to encourage the delivery of effective self-management. In addition, the context in which GPs work also needs to be modified for this to be achieved.
chronic disease; family practice; self-care
Chronically ill patients often experience psychosocial problems in everyday life. A biopsychosocial approach is considered to be essential in chronic care. In Dutch primary health care the current biomedically oriented clinical practice may conflict with the biopsychosocial approach. This study is aimed to explore the views of Dutch stakeholders on achieving a biopsychosocial approach to the care of patients with chronic diseases.
In a qualitative explorative study design, we held semi-structured interviews with stakeholders, face-to-face or by telephone. Data were analysed using content analysis. Thirty representatives of Dutch patients with chronic illnesses, primary care professionals, policy makers, health inspectorate, health insurers, educational institutes and researchers were interviewed.
Stakeholders were aware that a systematic biopsychosocial care approach is lacking in current practice. Opportunities for effective change are multidimensional. Achieving a biopsychosocial approach to care relates to active patient participation, the training of professionals, high-quality guidelines, protocols and tools, integrated primary care, research and financial issues.
Although the principles and importance of the biopsychosocial model have been recognized, the provision of care that starts from the medical, emotional or social needs of individual patients does not fit in easily with the current Dutch health care system. All parties involved need to make a commitment to realize the ideal of biopsychosocial chronic care. Together they need to equip health professionals with skills to understand patients' multifaceted needs and to reward integrated biopsychosocial care. Patients need to be empowered to be active partners in their own care.
NICE guidelines emphasise the need for a confident, early diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ Myalgic Encephalitis (CFS/ME) in Primary Care with management tailored to the needs of the patient. Research suggests that GPs are reluctant to make the diagnosis and resources for management are currently inadequate. This study aimed to develop resources for practitioners and patients to support the diagnosis and management of CFS/ME in primary care.
Semi structured interviews were conducted with patients, carers, GPs, practice nurses and CFS/ME specialists in North West England. All interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and analysed qualitatively using open explorative thematic coding. Two patient involvement groups were consulted at each stage of the development of resources to ensure that the resources reflect everyday issues faced by people living with CFS/ME.
Patients and carers stressed the importance of recognising CFS/ME as a legitimate condition, and the need to be believed by health care professionals. GPs and practice nurses stated that they do not always have the knowledge or skills to diagnose and manage the condition. They expressed a preference for an online training package. For patients, information on getting the most out of a consultation and the role of carers was thought to be important. Patients did not want to be overloaded with information at diagnosis, and suggested information should be given in steps. A DVD was suggested, to enable information sharing with carers and family, and also for those whose symptoms act as a barrier to reading.
Rather than use a top-down approach to the development of training for health care practitioners and information for patients and carers, we have used data from key stakeholders to develop a patient DVD, patient leaflets to guide symptom management and a modular e-learning resource which should equip GPs to diagnose and manage CFS/ME effectively, meet NICE guidelines and give patients acceptable, evidence-based information.
Chronic fatigue syndrome; ME; Resources; Patient; Practitioner; Qualitative research; Primary health care
Background Worldwide, a number of reforms have been undertaken with the intention of improving access to mental health services. Notable among these is the integration of mental health services into primary health care, which has been one of the most fundamental healthcare reform recommendations globally.
Objectives This paper describes the opportunities for and challenges to the integration of mental health into primary health care in Uganda, as identified in a wider study, aimed at exploring the policy interventions required to address the vicious cycle of mental ill-health and poverty.
Methods Semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted with purposefully selected mental health stakeholders from various sectors. The interviews and FGDs were audio-recorded, and transcripts coded on the basis of a pre-determined coding frame. Thematic analysis of the data was conducted using NVivo7, adopting a framework analysis approach.
Results The participants identified a number of opportunities that could be exploited to strengthen the integration process. Notable among these was the political will and prioritisation of mental health at policy level. Poor appreciation of the integration process and attitudinal problems emerged as the most pressing challenges for integration of mental health into primary health care.
Conclusion Irrespective of the various opportunities in place, the integration of mental health into primary health care has not yet been fully realised, as it faces a number of challenges within and outside the health sector. This calls for more concerted efforts to scale up activities for effective integration of mental health care into primary health care.
integration; mental health; policy; primary healthcare; Uganda
Telecare could greatly facilitate chronic disease management in the community, but despite government promotion and positive demonstrations its implementation has been limited. This study aimed to identify factors inhibiting the implementation and integration of telecare systems for chronic disease management in the community.
Large scale comparative study employing qualitative data collection techniques: semi-structured interviews with key informants, task-groups, and workshops; framework analysis of qualitative data informed by Normalization Process Theory. Drawn from telecare services in community and domestic settings in England and Scotland, 221 participants were included, consisting of health professionals and managers; patients and carers; social care professionals and managers; and service suppliers and manufacturers.
Key barriers to telecare integration were uncertainties about coherent and sustainable service and business models; lack of coordination across social and primary care boundaries, lack of financial or other incentives to include telecare within primary care services; a lack of a sense of continuity with previous service provision and self-care work undertaken by patients; and general uncertainty about the adequacy of telecare systems. These problems led to poor integration of policy and practice.
Telecare services may offer a cost effective and safe form of care for some people living with chronic illness. Slow and uneven implementation and integration do not stem from problems of adoption. They result from incomplete understanding of the role of telecare systems and subsequent adaption and embeddedness to context, and uncertainties about the best way to develop, coordinate, and sustain services that assist with chronic disease management. Interventions are therefore needed that (i) reduce uncertainty about the ownership of implementation processes and that lock together health and social care agencies; and (ii) ensure user centred rather than biomedical/service-centred models of care.
Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) can cause profound and prolonged illness and disability, and poses significant problems of uncertainty for healthcare professionals in its diagnosis and management. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the nature of professional 'best practice' in working with people with CFS/ME.
The views and experiences of health care practitioners (HCPs) were sought, who had been judged by people with CFS/ME themselves to have been particularly helpful and effective. Qualitative semi-structured interviews following a topic guide were carried out with six health care practitioners. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and subject to thematic analysis.
Five main themes were developed: 1) Diagnosis; 2) Professional perspectives on living with CFS/ME; 3) Interventions for treatment and management; 4) Professional values and support for people with CFS/ME and their families; 5) Health professional roles and working practices. Key findings related to: the diagnostic process, especially the degree of uncertainty which may be shared by primary care physicians and patients alike; the continued denial in some quarters of the existence of CFS/ME as a condition; the variability, complexity, and serious impact of the condition on life and living; the onus on the person with CFS/ME to manage their condition, supported by HCPs; the wealth of often conflicting and confusing information on the condition and options for treatment; and the vital role of extended listening and trustful relationships with patients.
While professional frustrations were clearly expressed about the variability of services both in primary and specialist care and continuing equivocal attitudes to CFS/ME as a condition, there were also strong positive messages for people with CFS/ME where the right services are in place. Many of the findings from these practitioners seen by their patients as helping them more effectively, accord with the existing literature identifying the particular importance of listening skills, respect and trust for establishing a therapeutic relationship which recognises key features of the patient trajectory and promotes effective person-centred management of this complex condition. These findings indicate the need to build such skills and knowledge more systematically into professional training informed by the experience of specialist services and those living with the condition.
People's trust in health care and health care professionals is essential for the effectiveness of health care, especially for chronically ill people, since chronic diseases are by definition (partly) incurable. Therefore, it may be understandable that chronically ill people turn to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), often in addition to regular care. Chronically ill people use CAM two to five times more often than non-chronically ill people. The trust of chronically ill people in health care and health care professionals and the relationship of this with CAM use have not been reported until now. In this study, we examine the influence of chronically ill people's trust in health care and health care professionals on CAM use.
The present sample comprises respondents of the 'Panel of Patients with Chronic Diseases' (PPCD). Patients (≥25 years) were selected by GPs. A total of 1,625 chronically ill people were included. Trust and CAM use was measured by a written questionnaire. Statistical analyses were t tests for independent samples, Chi-square and one-way analysis of variance, and logistic regression analysis.
Chronically ill people have a relatively low level of trust in future health care. They trust certified alternative practitioners less than regular health care professionals, and non-certified alternative practitioners less still. The less trust patients have in future health care, the more they will be inclined to use CAM, when controlling for socio-demographic and disease characteristics.
Trust in future health care is a significant predictor of CAM use. Chronically ill people's use of CAM may increase in the near future. Health policy makers should, therefore, be alert to the quality of practising alternative practitioners, for example by insisting on professional certification. Equally, good quality may increase people's trust in public health care.
Family carers of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are presumed to have frequent involvement in decision-making for symptom management and quality of life. To better understand and improve decision-making, we investigated the range and extent of carer participation in decision-making. By focusing on the perspectives of ALS support carers, the study aimed to explore carer participation in decision-making, to identify carer roles, and determine the facilitators and barriers to carer participation in decision-making for ALS multidisciplinary care.
Participants and methods
An exploratory, in-depth study was conducted with eight carers of ALS patients from two specialized ALS multidisciplinary clinics. Carers participated in semi-structured interviews that were audio recorded and transcribed then coded and analyzed for emergent themes.
Carers made a significant contribution to ALS decision-making. Their roles were: promoting the patient voice, promoting patient health literacy, and providing emotional support and logistical assistance. Facilitators of carer participation in decision-making were perceived to be: health professional endorsement of patients’ decision-making style; access to credible information sources; evidence-based information from the ALS clinic, ALS support association, and health practitioners; supportive relationships with family and friends; spiritual faith; ease of contact with ALS services; and availability of physical and practical support for carers. Barriers to carer participation included: changes to patient communication and cognition; conflict between respect for patients’ independence and patients’ best interest; communication breakdown between patient, carer, and service providers; the confronting nature of disease information; credibility of Internet sites; carer coping strategies; lack of support for the carer; and the burden of care.
Carers enhance ALS patient-centered care through their participation in decision-making. They collaborate with patients and health professionals to form a decision-making triad within specialized multidisciplinary ALS clinical care. Nevertheless, health professional engagement with carers as collaborative partners is acknowledged to be a significant challenge.
motor neuron disease; carer experience; patient-centered care; health literacy; health care triad; barriers and facilitators
Objective To identify common difficult decisions made by family carers on behalf of people with dementia, and facilitators of and barriers to such decisions, in order to produce information for family carers about overcoming barriers.
Design Qualitative study to delineate decision areas through focus groups and complexity of decision making in individual interviews.
Setting Community settings in London.
Participants 43 family carers of people with dementia in focus groups and 46 carers who had already made such decisions in individual interviews.
Results Family carers identified five core problematic areas of decision making: accessing dementia related health and social services; care homes; legal-financial matters; non-dementia related health care; and making plans for the person with dementia if the carer became too ill to care for them. They highlighted the difficulties in making proxy decisions, especially against active resistance, and their altered role of patient manager while still a family member. Families devised strategies to gain agreement in order to ensure that the person with dementia retained dignity.
Conclusions The following strategies helped with implementation of decisions: introducing change slowly; organising legal changes for the carer as well as the patient; involving a professional to persuade the patient to accept services; and emphasising that services optimised, not impeded, independence. To access services, carers made patients’ general practice appointments, accompanied them to the surgery, pointed out symptoms, gained permission to receive confidential information, asked for referral to specialist services, and used professionals’ authority to gain patients’ agreement. End of life decisions were particularly difficult. They were helped by knowledge of the person with dementia’s previous views, clear prognostic information, and family support. Information sheets to help carers to overcome barriers to proxy decision making have been developed; their impact in practice has yet to be evaluated.
Being a family carer to a patient nearing the end of their life is a challenging and confronting experience. Studies show that caregiving can have negative consequences on the health of family carers including fatigue, sleep problems, depression, anxiety and burnout. One of the goals of palliative care is to provide psychosocial support to patients and families facing terminal illness. A systematic review of interventions for family carers of cancer and palliative care patients conducted at the start of this millennium demonstrated that there was a dearth of rigorous inquiry on this topic and consequently limited knowledge regarding the types of interventions likely to be effective in meeting the complex needs of family carers. We wanted to discern whether or not the evidence base to support family carers has improved. Furthermore, undertaking this review was acknowledged as one of the priorities for the International Palliative Care Family Carer Research Collaboration http://www.centreforpallcare.org.
A systematic review was undertaken in order to identify developments in family carer support that have occurred over the last decade. The focus of the review was on interventions that targeted improvements in the psychosocial support of family carers of palliative care patients. Studies were graded to assess their quality.
A total of fourteen studies met the inclusion criteria. The focus of interventions included psycho-education, psychosocial support, carer coping, symptom management, sleep promotion and family meetings. Five studies were randomised controlled trials, three of which met the criteria for the highest quality evidence. There were two prospective studies, five pre-test/post-test projects and two qualitative studies.
The systematic review identified a slight increase in the quality and quantity of psychosocial interventions conducted for family carers in the last decade. More rigorous intervention research is required in order to meet the supportive care needs of family carers of palliative care patients.
In September 1996, the Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics convened a conference entitled "Comprehensive Care of the Terminally Ill: The Northern California Consensus Development Conference for Guidelines on Aid-in-Dying." The regionally based, multidisciplinary conference gathered people from a variety of disciplines and diverse perspectives on physician aid-in-dying. This report documents important points of convergence, disagreement, and uncertainty that emerged from the conference and provides commentary on crucial issues: the definition of terminal illness, ensuring adequate palliative care, psychiatric challenges, coping with family pressures, the doctor-patient relationship, the managed care context, the role of ethics committees, and institutional challenges. Should physician aid-in-dying become a legal practice in California, the report will provide guidance to health care organizations, health professionals, and public policy officials engaged in local or state guideline or policy development.
Many countries have passed laws giving patients the right to participate in decisions about health care. People with dementia cannot be assumed to be incapable of making decisions on their diagnosis alone as they may have retained cognitive abilities.
The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of how persons with dementia participated in making decisions about health care and how their family carers and professional caregivers influenced decision making.
This Norwegian study had a qualitative multi-case design. The triad in each of the ten cases consisted of the person with dementia, the family carer and the professional caregiver, in all 30 participants. Inclusion criteria for the persons with dementia were: (1) 67 years or older (2) diagnosed with dementia (3) Clinical Dementia Rating score 2, moderate dementia; (3) able to communicate verbally. The family carers and professional caregivers were then asked to participate.
A semi-structured interview guide was used in interviews with family carers and professional caregivers. Field notes were written after participant observation of interactions between persons with dementia and professional caregivers during morning care or activities at a day centre. How the professional caregivers facilitated decision making was the focus of the observations that varied in length from 30 to 90 minutes. The data were analyzed using framework analysis combined with a hermeneutical interpretive approach.
Professional caregivers based their assessment of mental competence on experience and not on standardized tests. Persons with dementia demonstrated variability in how they participated in decision making. Pseudo-autonomous decision making and delegating decision making were new categories that emerged. Autonomous decision making did occur but shared decision making was the most typical pattern. Reduced mental capacity, lack of available choices or not being given the opportunity to participate led to non-involvement. Not all decisions were based on logic; personal values and relationships were also considered.
Persons with moderate dementia demonstrated variability in how they participated in decision making. Optimal involvement was facilitated by positioning them as capable of influencing decisions, assessing decision-specific competence, clarifying values and understanding the significance of relationships and context.