12/02/2013

ESTEVE AND UIC WILL STUDY THE ACTUAL NEEDS OF CHRONIC PATIENTS TO DEFINE BETTER CARE STRATEGIES

The two entities will start up a study directed by the Global Institute for Public Health and Health Policies of the International University of Catalonia.

This study aims at creating an integrated framework for action likely to improve the patients' health education and adherence to treatment as well as the scientific training of health care providers.

An agreement signed this morning between ESTEVE and the International University of Catalonia (UIC) will develop research and scientific training projects aimed at improving chronic patient care -one of the greatest challenges currently faced by the healthcare system. The first of these projects will include a study to analyze specific, actual needs of chronic patients in order to prompt integrated action strategies aimed at improving their health education and adherence to treatment, the scientific training of health care providers, and research.

According to the WHO, 78% of Spaniards will be suffering from a chronic disease in 2020, and this will account for the greatest burden on the healthcare system. Chronic conditions already represent the leading cause of death and disability worldwide as well as the largest source of expenditure in the Spanish health system, which poses a challenge to its future sustainability.

All chronic patients endure similar consequences of their disease: difficulty making decisions, mood alterations, deficient patient-physician communication, problems at home, at work and in relationships, lack of adherence to treatment or to medical advice, eating disorders, body function impairment, lack of physical activity, fatigue, difficulty managing pain, etc.

In view of this situation, the health system must seek more effective ways to handle the increasing demand for chronicity-related medical care. Several propositions have so far been made, ranging from expert patients programmes imparted on a co-responsibility basis to the inclusion of IT in patient follow-up.

This new agreement between ESTEVE and UIC will promote research, scientific training and health education projects aimed at analyzing the chronic patient's behaviors and needs in the primary care setting, and thus optimize patient care and medication use. With this alliance, ESTEVE takes its commitment to chronicity one step further, which adds to its wide experience in the most relevant areas, including cardiovascular, renal, respiratory, osteoarticular and nervous system. The first project arising from this new agreement is a "Research study to analyze the chronic patient's behavior and healthcare needs. An Itinerary of the Chronic Patient". This ESTEVE-funded one-year study is to be conducted by the UIC's Global Institute for Public Health and Health Policies, and is endorsed by the Spanish Forum of Patients.

The objective of the study is to review the efficacy of the main strategies currently used to approach chronicity, and also to assess how chronic patients feel about their situation and about these strategies. The ultimate purpose is to ascertain the behavior of chronic patients and their specific, actual healthcare needs, as well as to propose strategies likely to offer the best possible response. Importantly, patients are to get involved for achieving these goals.

The relevance of this study lies in the possibility of creating sensitivity and awareness among the population regarding the benefits of new chronicity approaches based on evaluation criteria defined according to effectiveness and, of importance, including the viewpoints of the affected subjects themselves.

This study is meant to improve the chronicity care process, to establish an integrated framework for action, and to encourage action aimed at improving issues like patient education, patient adherence to treatments as prescribed, health care provider scientific training, and research in these fields.

To serve this purpose, the study will include three distinct phases. The first phase will review the scientific literature on the basic needs of chronic patients; the second phase will include a qualitative study of patients suffering from a chronic disease for more than one year; and the third phase will include specific recommendations for designing more effective strategies likely to improve the chronic patient's health and quality of life based on the results obtained in the two previous phases.

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