Researchers call for patients to be more involved in healthcare messaging
Patients should have more input into healthcare messaging that discusses risk, researchers have suggested.
A new study led by experts from Keele University and Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (MPFT) investigated how the Covid-19 pandemic impacted on the physical, psychological and social health and wellbeing of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), who were classed as clinically vulnerable during the height of the pandemic and are more susceptible to poorer outcomes from Covid-19.
The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, highlighted that fear was their dominant emotion during the pandemic, reinforced by letters from doctors highlighting their increased risk from the virus, and news reports about new variants. Prolonged social isolation led to some patients adopting a modified form of shielding to protect their mental health.
As the pandemic progressed, the impact on emotional and social wellbeing became more apparent and they also raised concerns that the impact of their status as “clinically vulnerable” had a negative impact on their sense of identity.
But the research also found that patients used self-management techniques – traditionally used for managing the symptoms of their RA - as a way of maintaining their wellbeing throughout the pandemic which may have contributed to a minimal impact on physical health that these patients experienced.
Lead author Sarah Ryan, an Honorary Professor in Keele’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, said: "The findings from this study show the importance of involving patients in helping us to communicate risk, in such a way that promotes safe behaviour without increasing emotional distress and how self-management skills that can be used in different situations to tackle adversity.”
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