Posts Tagged ‘patient engagement’


Are the Benefits of Nutrition for Cardiovascular Health Being Undersold ?

September 14, 2015

By Betsy Todd, MPH, RN, CIC, AJN clinical editor

By Eric Hunt/via Wikimedia Commons

By Eric Hunt/via Wikimedia Commons

A nutrition conference at which physicians and medical students outnumber either nurses or dietitians is a rare event. This was the case at last month’s International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine: Cardiovascular Disease in Washington, DC, cosponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and George Washington University.

The speakers, shared a wealth of data on the influence of different types of diets on weight, blood pressure, lipids, serum inflammatory markers, hemoglobin A1c levels, and diseased coronary arteries. More than one pointed out that we too often overestimate the benefits of drugs and medical procedures and discount the effectiveness of diet and lifestyle changes. Some highlights:

Does heart disease begin in utero? Children who are large for gestational age (> 95th percentile) and those born to overweight mothers are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Vascular physiologist Michael Skilton, PhD, associate professor at the University of Sydney in Australia, has also identified microscopic lesions in aortic endothelium of babies born small for gestational age (< 10th percentile). He suggests that their diets include the American Heart Association’s recommendations for omega-3 fatty acid intake beginning in childhood (breast milk, flax seeds, walnuts, or child-friendly omega 3 supplements can be used in lieu of fish-derived omega 3s when mercury is a concern).

Children and heart disease. Gerald Berenson, MD, director of the Tulane University Center for Cardiovascular Health, led Tulane’s Bogalusa Health Study in Bogalusa, Louisiana, beginning in the 1970s, and he and his team published dozens of pioneering articles on childhood risk factors for CVD. Berenson refers to childhood obesity, glucose intolerance, hypertriglyceridemia, and hypertension as a “deadly quartet” leading to the development of CVD early in life. He and his team instituted ongoing, comprehensive health education for elementary school students focusing on nutrition, exercise, cognitive behaviors, and self-esteem.

CVD risk reduction in children through diet. Michael Macknin, MD, professor of pediatrics at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine/Case Western Reserve, recently studied the impact of both the standard American Heart Association (AHA) diet and a plant-based, no-added-fat diet on CVD risk reduction in obese, hypercholesterolemic children and their parents. In just four weeks, the AHA diet led to statistically significant decreases in weight, mid-arm and waist circumference, and myeloperoxidase (MPO, an inflammatory marker for heart disease). The plant-based results were even more striking: statistically significant reductions in weight, cholesterol, and many other measures.

Adults and CVD. Adult research findings have been published for decades, including extensive documentation of the reversal of coronary artery occlusion as demonstrated by coronary angiography. (More than 20 years ago, angiographic evidence from the studies of Dr. Dean Ornish led to the first nonsurgical, nonpharmaceutical therapy for heart disease to qualify for insurance reimbursement.) Caldwell Esselstyn, MD, director of the Cardiovascular Prevention and Reversal Program of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, who reiterated the observation sometimes made that millions of people around the world who don’t eat as we do in the U.S. never develop CVD, emphasized as well that a no-added-oil, plant-based diet elicits a remarkably rapid response.  Read the rest of this entry ?


Nurses Aren’t Just Healers, They’re Teachers Too: A Patient’s View

June 3, 2015
Illustration by Jennifer Rodgers. All rights reserved.

Illustration by Jennifer Rodgers. All rights reserved.

A teeny red bump had mysteriously appeared on my left index finger. It hurt when I pressed on it. I figured it was nothing. . . .

That’s the start of the June Reflections essay in AJN, “Ms. Lisa and Ms. MRSA,” a patient experience narrative by freelance writer Shannon Harris. As luck would have it, the bump on her finger, it turns out, is not nothing. It’s MRSA.

The diagnosis takes a while. Finally the situation worsens, and surgery is needed. The author takes it all in stride, at least in retrospect:

The third physician stood out to me most. He asked to take a picture of my green and black, staph-infected finger with his iPhone. “Sure. Look at it! I thought this only happened to pirates,” I told him as he snapped away. He glanced at the young, button-nosed nurse standing beside him. “Don’t you want a picture? For your records?” he asked.

She shook her head, squinting and gritting her teeth. “I know. Yuck,” I said. I later shared photos of my infection journey online, to the great wonder and disgust of my friends and family. Before that, though, came surgery.

The author’s tone is light, but the situation is a scary one for any patient. Read the rest of this entry ?


Strong Nurse and Patient Voices On the Blogs This Week

February 20, 2015

By Jacob Molyneux, senior editor/blog editor

Photo by mezone, via Flickr.

Photo by mezone, via Flickr.

Here’s a short Friday list of recent smart, honest, informative blog posts by nurses, as well as a couple of interesting patient perspectives on prominent types of chronic illness and the ways they are talked about by the rest of us.

At Head Nurse, in “Yes…No. I’m Having Some Thoughts About BSNs,” an ADN-prepared nurse makes some familiar and some more surprising observations about the effects of the new policy of hiring mostly BSN-prepared nurses at her facility as it tries for Magnet status. For example, one of the effects she notes is “a massive drop-off in terms of the diversity of our nursing staff.” The move toward BSNs is obviously the trend in nursing, and is supported by research, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t still two sides to the issue, or real unintended consequences to address as this change is gradually implemented.

At Hospice Diary, the blog of hospice nurse Amy Getter, there’s a post called “Hearts, Flowers, and Bucket Lists.” Reflecting on the imminent death of a patient, the author puts the popular notion of bucket lists into perspective:

“I think about some of the things I would still like to do in my life, and realize . . . . most of those wish-list items would be swept away in a moment, if I only had a little time this week. I would hug my kids harder and love more, and want to squeeze every last drop of time to put into my relationships that I will have to leave behind. “

Staying with the end-of-life theme for a moment longer, you’ll find at Pallimed, a very good hospice and palliative medicine blog, a new post with a to-do list that some of us or our loved ones really can’t put off until next month or next year: “10 Practical Things to Do When Diagnosed With a Serious Illness.”

Two consistently good nurse bloggers, both of whom have written for this blog or for the journal itself from time to time, happen to have reviews of books about aspects of nursing on their blogs this week. Read the rest of this entry ?


Paired Glucose Testing With Telehealth Support to Empower Type 2 Diabetes Patients

February 13, 2015

Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

bloodglucosetestingType 2 diabetes is challenging for those trying to meet blood glucose target ranges, often requiring one or more daily medications, increases in exercise, changes in eating habits, and self-monitoring of glucose level. Those who are willing and able to learn about factors affecting their glucose level and to make small daily efforts in one or more areas have the potential to radically improve their sense of control over their diabetes.

This month’s Diabetes Under Control column, “Better Type 2 Diabetes Self-Management Using Paired Testing and Remote Monitoring” (free until April 1), presents a successful story of patient engagement in diabetes self-management. It describes the case of a participant in a clinical trial who, with clinician support, incorporated paired glucose testing (self-testing before and after meals) and telehealth (remote patient monitoring, or RPM).

The article is easy to follow and gives a series of biweekly updates on the patient’s progress. Before the study starts, she’s not very engaged in self-management. For example, she’s only testing her own glucose level three to four times a month. To get a sense of how much more empowered she’s come to feel by week 12 of the protocol, consider this brief excerpt: Read the rest of this entry ?


Resisting the Rising Tide of Parkinson’s

October 13, 2014
By Barbara Hranilovich. All rights reserved.

By Barbara Hranilovich. All rights reserved.

The Reflections essay in the October issue of AJN is called “After-Dinner Talks.” These are talks with a purpose, a form of physical therapy with high stakes. Writes the author, Minter Krotzer, of her husband’s long struggle with Parkinson’s disease: “Hal always says Parkinson’s is not his identity, and it isn’t, as long as he doesn’t let it claim him, or as long as it doesn’t claim us.”

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning:

‘I’d like you two to have a conversation every night after dinner,’ Hal’s speech therapist said to us.

. . . . Over the years, Hal’s Parkinson’s disease has made him difficult to understand. His vocal cords have restricted movement and it is hard for him to make it to the end of a sentence. He often swallows his last words or they just barely come out. Sometimes he sounds like he is underwater—the words indistinguishable from one another, blurry and pitchless.

But read the short essay, which is free. In just one page it manages to say a lot about chronic illness and the constant, conscious effort it can require of both patients and family members; about a clinician’s good advice; about marriage and communication; and about the power of language to keep us human.—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor.

Illustration by Barbara Hranilovich; all rights reserved.

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AJN’s August Issue: Preventing Pressure Ulcers, Strengths-Based Nursing, Medical Marijuana, More

August 1, 2014

AJN0814.Cover.OnlineAJN’s August issue is now available on our Web site. Here’s a selection of what not to miss.

Toward a new model of nursing. Despite the focus on patient-centered care, medicine continues to rely on a model that emphasizes a patient’s deficits rather than strengths. “Strengths-Based Nursing” describes a holistic approach to care in which eight core nursing values guide action, promoting empowerment, self-efficacy, and hope. This CE feature offers 2.5 CE credits to those who take the test that follows the article.

Decreasing pressure ulcer incidence. Hospital-acquired pressure ulcers take a high toll on patients, clinicians, and health care facilities. “Sustaining Pressure Ulcer Best Practices in a High-Volume Cardiac Care Environment” describes how one of the world’s largest and busiest cardiac hospitals implemented several quality improvement strategies that eventually reduced the percentage of patients with pressure ulcers from 6% to zero. This CE feature offers 2.8 CE credits to those who take the test that follows the article. And don’t miss a podcast interview with the authors (this and other podcasts are accessible via the Behind the Article page on our Web site or, if you’re in our iPad app, by tapping the icon on the first page of the article).

Read our Cultivating Quality column this month for another article on using evidence-based nursing practice to reduce the incidence of hospital-acquired pressure ulcers and promote wound healing. Read the rest of this entry ?


Getting Patients Involved in Care Redesign: What the Research Says

July 16, 2014

By Sylvia Foley, AJN senior editor

“I think the whole thing is we’re trying to im­prove care. It’s all about [patients] anyways. So if we’re gonna make changes that impact them I think we have to get them involved.” —study participant

Although there is considerable support for increasing patient involvement in health care, it’s not clear how best to achieve this. And few researchers have specifically investigated the views of patients and providers on patient engagement. In this month’s CE–Original Research feature, “The Perceptions of Health Care Team Members About Engaging Patients in Care Redesign,” Melanie Lavoie-Tremblay and colleagues describe findings from their recent study. Here’s a brief overview.

Objective: This study sought to explore the perceptions of health care workers about engaging patients as partners on care redesign teams under a program called Transforming Care at the Bedside (TCAB), and to examine the facilitating factors, barriers, and effects of such engagement.
Design: This descriptive, qualitative study collected data through focus groups and individual interviews. Participants included health care providers and managers from five units at three hospitals in a university-affiliated health care center in Canada.
Methods: A total of nine focus groups and 13 individual interviews were conducted in April 2012, 18 months after the TCAB program began in September 2010. Content analysis was used to analyze the quali­tative data.
Findings: Health care providers and managers benefited from engaging patients in the decision-making process because the patients brought a new point of view. Involving the patients exposed team members to valuable information that they hadn’t previously thought about during decision making.
Conclusion: Health care teams stand to benefit from engaging patients in the change process. Patients contribute a different point of view, and this helps to ensure that the changes proposed and implemented address their needs.

Noting the importance of mindset, the authors concluded that “perhaps the most important facilitating factor in including pa­tients on care redesign teams is for all those involved to believe that their participation is crucial to im­proving the design and delivery of services.”

For more details, read the article, which is free online. What’s your take on patient engagement?

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