Patient and Nurse Experiences in a Rural Chronic Disease Management Program: A Qualitative Evaluation

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Abstract

Purpose:

Rural status confounds chronic disease self-management. The purpose of this qualitative, descriptive study was to evaluate the nurse-led “Living Well” chronic disease management program reporting patient recruitment and retention issues since program initiation in 2013. The Chronic Care Model (CCM) was the guiding framework used to reinforce that interdisciplinary teams must have productive patient interactions for their program(s) to be sustainable.

Primary Practice Setting:

A rural, Midwest county clinic's chronic disease management program.

Methodology and Sample:

Observations, interviews, and within- and across-case coding were used. Patients' responses were analyzed to identify (1) reasons for recruitment and retention problems and (2) program elements that were viewed as successful or needing improvement. A convenience sample of 6 rural, English-speaking adults (65 years or older, with no severe cognitive impairment) with at least one chronic condition was recruited and interviewed.

Results:

Themes emerged related to nurse knowledge, availability, and value; peer support; overcoming barriers; adherence enhancement; and family/friends' involvement. Patients reported engagement in self-management activities because of program elements such as support groups and productive nurse–patient interactions. Interdisciplinary communication, commitment, and patient referral processes were identified as reasons for recruitment and retention issues.

Implications for Case Management Practice:

Findings substantiated that certain elements must be present and improved upon for future rural programs to be successful. Interdisciplinary communication may need to be improved to address recruitment and retention problems. It was clear from patient interviews that the nurse coordinators played a major role in patients' self-management adherence and overall satisfaction with the program. This is important to case management because results revealed the need for programs of this nature that incorporate the vital role of nurse coordinators and align with the CCM value of providing a supportive community health care resource for patients with chronic disease.

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