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96% of Nurses Lack Tools Needed for Patient Engagement, Education

Seventy-one percent of nurses said they don’t have enough time to sufficiently meet patient engagement and patient education needs.

Nurses need more access to the time and tools needed to support patient engagement and education among an increasingly stigmatized chronic care patient population, according to surveying from Wakefield Research conducted on behalf of Convatec.

Particularly, nearly all nurses (96 percent) told the survey administrators that they do not have the time, education, or resources to address the worst aspects of the patient experience for those with long-term health needs, who themselves are reporting challenges with patient education and disease stigma.

This comes as the US faces an influx of patients managing chronic illness and long-term diseases. The Baby Boomer generation is aging into retirement, and with that comes an onslaught of medical needs both they and their caregivers, either a spouse or an adult child, need to manage.

Chronic care management is hard, and according to this survey, it comes with an emotional toll. Eighty-seven percent of patients or their caregivers said they experience some sort of stigma or social isolation because of a patient’s long-term medical needs. Another 44 percent said they sometimes feel embarrassed to talk about their health conditions, and 43 percent said their health condition isn’t usually talked about or represented in the media.

That’s a heavy burden to carry for patients and their caregivers. Nearly every patient and caregiver respondent (99 percent) said stigma can negatively affect disease progression and recovery or healing. Ninety-six percent of nurse respondents agreed.

But medical professionals—especially nurses, who are at the apex of patient engagement and communication—can help. Fifty-six percent of patients said that spending more time with their medical providers would make them feel better supported in their care. Nearly every patient and caregiver said they wanted more information about their chronic illness, and half of them would like that patient education to come via interpersonal communication.

But although nurses want to deliver on that patient engagement, they don’t have enough resources to do so, the survey showed. Sixty-eight percent of nurse respondents said they feel unable to fully support their patients, with 96 percent saying they need more time, education, and resources to care for patients and their family caregivers.

Particularly, 71 percent of nurses need more time to spend with patients, 56 percent need more time for continuing medical education, and 51 percent need educational resources to share as a part of patient education.

Getting nurses these resources, especially the time to devote to CME and patient communication training, will be key, the survey added. Sixty percent of nurses said they are less than completely comfortable speaking with patients and family caregivers about the challenges associated with having a long-term health condition (but 82 percent did say they are at least mostly comfortable).

Just shy of half (47 percent) of nurse respondents said their limited comfort comes from a lack of quality time to dive deep with patients.

These findings come as the healthcare industry zeroes in on the role nurses play in patient engagement and patient education. In 2017, Merck Manuals reported that most nurses feel that patient education—and dispelling misinformation—are key to their jobs. Eighty-eight percent of nurses told researchers they spend at least half their time with patients focused on patient education and correcting medical misinformation.

As the need for patient education and clearing up misinformation grows, as will the importance of the nurse-patient relationship. Healthcare organizations, which are increasingly staring down a nursing shortage problem, should consider the different tools and resources necessary to help nurses do their jobs.

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