The Profound Impact of Nurses on the Quality of Life of Chronic Disease Patients

Published on 25/01/2024 by admin

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Last modified 25/01/2024

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Chronic diseases pose ongoing challenges for individuals, impacting their physical health, overall well-being, and quality of life. According to the CDC, 6 out of 10 US adults suffer from chronic diseases, and 4 out of 10 live with multiple ones.

In the face of these persistent struggles, nurses emerge as unsung heroes, helping enhance the lives of those battling chronic illnesses. This article explores nurses’ profound impact on the quality of life for individuals navigating the complex terrain of chronic diseases.

Understanding Chronic Illness

Chronic illness is a complex and enduring health condition that persists over an extended period, often for a lifetime. According to the WHO, chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer will cause 86% of the 90 million deaths by 2050. That is a 90% increase from 2019 numbers.

Unlike acute illnesses, which have a sudden onset and typically resolve with medical intervention, chronic illnesses require ongoing management and care. These conditions encompass a wide range of diseases, including but not limited to diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, and autoimmune disorders.

Living with a chronic illness profoundly impacts various aspects of an individual’s life, including physical health, emotional well-being, and daily functioning. The symptoms and limitations associated with chronic illnesses can fluctuate, creating challenges for individuals in maintaining a consistent quality of life. Coping with the uncertainties and fluctuations becomes a central aspect of navigating life with a chronic illness.

Managing chronic illnesses involves a comprehensive approach that extends beyond medical interventions. Lifestyle modifications, such as dietary changes, exercise routines, and stress management, are crucial in managing symptoms and preventing complications. Medications, when prescribed, aim to control symptoms and slow disease progression.

The psychological toll of chronic illness should not be underestimated. Individuals often grapple with feelings of grief, frustration, and anxiety as they come to terms with the impact of their condition on their lives. Social support becomes integral in helping individuals cope with emotional challenges, providing understanding and encouragement.

The Holistic Approach of Nurses

Nurses, with their medical knowledge and compassionate care, are at the forefront of providing holistic support to chronic disease patients. Their impact extends beyond administering medications or monitoring vital signs. Nurses become advocates, educators, and pillars of support for individuals navigating the complexities of chronic illnesses.

Nurses get the education to offer all such help. However, what help you get depends on the quality of the nurse you hire to support your or a loved one’s life. One of the best ways to hire the right nurse is by evaluating his or her education.

A Doctor of Nursing Practice degree can hint that the nurse has enough education and expertise. It is one of the highest qualifications in the nursing field. According to Wilkes University, DNP program outcomes include leadership qualities, improved practice experiences, working in diverse practice settings, etc. These qualities can ensure the nurse has received a good education for doing what he or she is doing.

Many universities offer online courses, too. Hence, the nurse might also have an online DNP degree, which is equivalent to that of an offline degree. An individual might choose an online degree because of the flexibility it offers. However, it does not mean they would not have received ample hands-on practice.

Advocacy and Empowerment

One of the most profound ways nurses contribute to the quality of life for chronic disease patients is through advocacy and empowerment. Advocacy, as a fundamental aspect of nursing practice, involves championing the rights and well-being of patients.

Nurses advocate for individuals with chronic diseases by ensuring equitable access to healthcare resources, promoting patient-centered care, and navigating complex healthcare systems. This advocacy extends beyond the hospital walls, encompassing community outreach and education to empower patients.

Empowerment emerges as a cornerstone in the nurse’s arsenal to foster lasting improvements in the lives of chronic disease patients. By imparting knowledge about their conditions, treatment options, and self-management strategies, nurses empower patients to actively participate in their care.

Educating Patients and Caregivers

Education is a powerful tool for nurses working with chronic disease patients. They can use the OLD CLASS method to educate patients. According to a study from the ScienceDirect Journal, OLD CLASS is a method developed by the NP faculty. It helps nurse practitioner students collect chronic illnesses’ complete histories and features. This is done so that they can provide high-quality chronic disease care to patients. This method is not new, as it goes back more than 1,000 years.

Nurses go beyond simply explaining medical jargon. They break down complex information, providing patients and their caregivers with a clear understanding of their conditions, treatment plans, and lifestyle modifications. This knowledge equips individuals to make informed decisions about their health, manage symptoms effectively, and adopt healthier lifestyles.

Psychosocial Support

The psychosocial support offered by nurses goes beyond the realms of conventional medical care. It involves active listening, empathetic communication, and a genuine understanding of the patient’s unique experience.

Chronic diseases can impose a heavy psychological burden, leading to anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation. Through their empathetic approach, nurses provide a crucial avenue for patients to express their fears, frustrations, and uncertainties.

In the realm of chronic diseases, the continuity of care provided by nurses is particularly impactful. Building long-term relationships with patients allows nurses to develop a profound understanding of their unique psychosocial needs. This familiarity enables nurses to tailor their support strategies, offering personalized interventions beyond immediate medical requirements.

Navigating Transitions in Care

Chronic diseases often involve multiple transitions in care, from hospital to home or from one healthcare provider to another. As highlighted in a study in the Frontiersin Journal, the transition from hospital to home can be complicated. At least one in five patients experience adverse health issues during this transition. It may include unplanned readmissions within a month of discharge from the hospital, medication errors, and sometimes even death.

Nurses, acting as liaisons between different facets of the healthcare system, facilitate smooth patient transitions. By coordinating care plans, communicating effectively with other healthcare professionals, and ensuring continuity of care, nurses contribute to a seamless healthcare experience.

To conclude, nurses emerge as unsung heroes, profoundly impacting the quality of life for individuals facing ongoing health challenges. Nurses play a pivotal role in enhancing chronic disease patients’ physical, emotional, and social well-being. They do this through their holistic approach, advocacy, education, psychosocial support, and commitment to building trusting relationships.