Healthcare professionals’ views of palliative care for American war veterans with non-malignant respiratory disease living in a rural area: a qualitative study

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    Chronic lung diseases, such as COPD, are a growing health concern within the veteran population. Palliative care programs have mainly focused on the needs of people with malignant disease in the past, however the majority of those worldwide needing palliative care have a non-malignant diagnosis. Additionally, palliative care provision can often be fragmented and varied dependent upon a patient’s geographical location. This study aimed to explore palliative care provision for veterans with non-malignant respiratory disease, and their family carers, living in a rural area of America.

    Qualitative study involving a convenience sample of 16 healthcare professionals from a large veteran hospital in Boise, Idaho. Data collection consisted of 5 focus groups which were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis.

    Healthcare professionals perceived that a lack of education regarding disease progression enhanced feelings of anxiety amongst veterans with NMRD, and their family carers. Additionally, the uncertain disease trajectory impeded referral to palliative and hospice services due to healthcare professionals own ambiguity regarding the veteran’s prognosis. A particular barrier also related to this particular patient population, was a perceived lack of ability to afford relevant services and a lack of local palliative service provision. Healthcare professionals expressed that a compounding factor to palliative care uptake was the perceptions held by the veteran population. Healthcare professionals expressed that alongside aligning palliative care with dying, veterans also viewed accepting palliative care as ‘surrendering’ to their disease. Findings indicated that telemedicine may be a beneficial platform to which palliative care can be provided to veterans with NMRD, and their family carers, in rural areas using a digital platform.

    Non-malignant respiratory disease is a life limiting condition commonly experienced within the veteran population. A new model of palliative care utilising a dynamic digital platform for this particular veteran population may provide an optimal way of providing efficient holistic care to areas with limited palliative services.



    Original languageEnglish
    Article number22
    JournalBMC palliative care
    Journal publication date27 Feb 2019
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2019

    ID: 146883948