The perceived effects of COVID-19 while living with a chronic illness

Mary Ryder*, Suzanne Guerin, Rita Forde, Grainne Lowe, Tiny Jaarsma, Madeline O'Neill, Carmel Halley, Michael Connolly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction
A diagnosis of chronic illness posed a serious threat to people during the recent COVID-19 pandemic. People with chronic illnesses were faced with increased mortality and reduced access to healthcare. Self-care is the process of maintaining health and managing a chronic illness. Nurses working in specialist services provide healthcare education to people with chronic illnesses. Access to these nurses was decreased during periods of the COVID-19 virus escalation due to the reconfiguration of services and redeployment of nurses. The purpose of the research was to learn from the experiences of people with a chronic illnesses in self-care behaviors and accessing altered healthcare services to inform future practices.

Design
A population survey design.

Methods
A mixed methods survey was designed, combining validated questionnaires and scales with open-ended questions. A convenience sample was utilized via using social media platforms. Data analysis included descriptive and inferential statistics. Content analysis was used to analyze open-ended responses.

Results
There were 147 responses, with approximately half reporting no changes in face-to-face healthcare contact, 41% reporting decreased contacts and 12% increased contacts. Non-face-to-face contacts were reduced by almost 9%, did not change by almost 60%, while 33% indicated an increase. Participants reported mixed perceptions in contact with healthcare providers during restrictions. In the Patient Assessment of Chronic Illness Care and the Self-Care of Chronic Illness scales, participants scored statistically lower scores than in previous studies. Participants indicated that public health restrictions negatively impacted their confidence, created challenges with re-engaging and that access to care was more difficult.

Conclusion
This research highlights the importance of providing continued support to people with chronic illness irrespective of other challenges to healthcare services. A structured approach to virtual self-care education is required.

Clinical relevance
This research concluded that the experience of access to one healthcare professional as opposed to diverse multidisciplinary input was similar for a number of chronic illnesses groups of people during the COVID-19 pandemic. There was an altered dynamic of virtual contacts with healthcare providers and a lack of confidence interpreting what monitoring was required by people with a chronic illnesses due to a lack of preparedness for virtual healthcare delivery.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJOURNAL OF NURSING SCHOLARSHIP
Early online date25 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • Arthritis, Chronic illness, COVID-19, Diabetes, Heart failure, Lung disease, Self-care

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