Nursing - Research Publications

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    Continuity of care and general wellbeing of patients with comorbidities requiring joint replacement
    WILLIAMS, ALLISON ; Dunning, Trisha ; MANIAS, ELIZABETH (Blackwell, 2007-01)
    Aim: This paper reports a study investigating the continuity of care and general wellbeing of patients with comorbidities who required an elective total hip or knee joint replacement. Background: Advances in medical science and improved lifestyles have reduced mortality rates in most western countries. As a result, there is an ageing population with a concomitant growth in the number of people who are living with chronic illnesses. Indeed a significant number of people will experience multiple chronic illnesses (comorbidities). Osteoarthritis is a common comorbidity and joint replacement surgery is frequently performed in people who have comorbidities that may require joint replacement surgery to relieve symptoms, creating a blend of acute and chronic needs. Method: A purposive sample of twenty participants with multiple comorbidities who required joint replacement surgery were recruited to obtain survey, interview and medical record audit data. Data was analysed for descriptive statistics and Ritchie and Spencer’s a theoretical method of qualitative analysis (Ritchie & Spencer, 1994). Findings: The findings demonstrate that the participants did not receive co-ordinated, continuity of care of their comorbidities prior to having surgery, during the acute care stay and following surgery. The acute care setting was primarily concerned with patient throughput following joint replacement surgery according to a prescribed clinical pathway. Pain, fatigue, insomnia and alterations in urinary elimination were chief sources of discomfort from preadmission to eight weeks postdischarge. Conclusion: These findings have implications for a comprehensive and coordinated approach to patients with comorbidities in need of acute care, in particular, joint replacement. Acute care, clinical pathways, and the specialisation of medicine and nursing, subordinated the general problem of patients with comorbidities. Models of chronic illness management and systems designed to integrate and co-ordinate chronic illness care had limited application in the acute care setting. A multidisciplinary, holistic approach is required. Recommendations for further research conclude this paper.