Illness and Disease Management

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The interview I conducted in my week two assignment was based on the issues that surround the treatment, prevention and caring for patients with chronic diseases with a focus on cancer. Chronic diseases are regarded to have long lasting effects with the term “chronic” used to imply that the course of the disease lasts for more than three months e.g. cancer, asthma, cystic fibrosis, diabetes etc. The participant in this interview was my high school physics teacher who is currently suffering from cancer that was apparently caused by his alcohol and cigarettes addiction. Most people have always perceived cancer as being a non-treatable disease, although this mindset is slowly dying off due to the increased awareness and campaigns on how to prevent and treat the disease (Al-Yateem, 2016). The fear that used to suffocate cancer patients has since been lessened with their major hope originating from fellow cancer patients who have outlived certain durations as predicted by their physicians. The objective of this interview was to mine information from the above-mentioned cancer patient regarding various impediments that are encountered in his daily struggles to overcome his state of health. The assumption here was that the issues affecting this patient are a representative of other patients.

From the interview conducted, it was evident that the main issue that surrounds the treatment of cancer is the side effects that occur from the periodic therapies conducted on patients. This implies that the top most need of the cancer patients is to be taken through a treatment that would result in a few side effects. The most common side effects associated with cancer treatment are hair loss, reduced sex drive, fatigue, nausea, fatigue, diarrhea and loss of hearing (Kendall, 2015). Today, there are over ten known methods that are widely used in treatment, prevention and caring for cancer patients most of which have common side effects. The advancements and newer trends in technology and science have resulted in more effective methods which mean that the most recent treatment methods have lesser side effects. In this regard, researchers and scientists should ensure that the cancer treatment methods of tomorrow have fewer side effects compared to those that are currently in use. Secondly, cancer patients require psychosocial care. There are various levels of psychosocial care which depend on the level of stress in an individual. Universal care is shown to individuals with minimal to mild distress, supportive care to people with mild to moderate distress, extended stress to people with moderate distress, specialist care to individuals with moderate to severe distress and acute care to people with severe distress (Edlin, 2012).

Healthy People 2020 is a decade-long campaign that has various overarching goals which are in line with the vision and mission of the American Department of Health and Human resources. This campaign enlists the help of different organizations, community groups and sectors whose collaboration is geared at improving the health of Americans across the nation without elements of favoritism (Kieft, 2014). As such, the Healthy People campaigns have three primary benchmarks that underpin the activities conducted by the various organizations and sectors. These benchmarks include encouraging and fostering collaboration among different sectors and communities, empowering patients into making informed decisions about chronic diseases and measuring the overall impact of the prevention initiatives taken (Koh, 2010). However, the four objectives and goals of the Healthy people 2020 include preventing premature deaths by carrying out initiatives intended at eradicating preventable diseases, improving the health of all groups of people by removing all kinds of disparities, promoting good health by fostering good physical and social environments and promoting quality of life among Americans through preaching healthy lifestyles.

To prevent premature deaths, the collaborated organizations, and sectors through the department of Health should invest more in scientific research about the diseases. Although perfection is just but an ideal situation which cannot be attained, the Healthy People 2020 should ensure that they move in a direction close to perfection. This would be through carrying out intensified scientific research that would help close all the gaps and loops that exist in the prevention, treatment, and cure of these diseases (Edlin, 2012). These research should aim not only on discovering the most effective biological ingredients but also on coming up with devices and instruments that would effectively help in the fight against the diseases. To remove disparities in medical attention accorded to different groups in the society, the Healthy People 2020 should work towards bridging the socio-economic differences in the community. For instance, the organizations should make even the most expensive medical care available to low-income earners in the society. There have been cases where some people have prematurely died because they could not afford the medical bills (Al-Yateem, 2016). Furthermore, the Healthy People 2020 ought to carry out nationwide campaigns regarding the treatment of chronic diseases. Some people still hold on perceptions that some diseases cannot be treated and as such, his or her mental and emotional parameters could be severely dented if diagnosed with a chronic disease. Therefore, these campaigns and awareness should aim at eroding such perceptions which would consequently enable patients to make informed decisions about their health.

Nurses have a vital role to play in the management of chronic diseases among Americans with their primary functions being the provision of care and educating patients. Any kind of patient requires more than just the attention accorded to his or her physical well-being. This implies that patients need a holistic nursing process that should aim to attain an ideal wellbeing of patients by addressing all the four parameters of human being, i.e., physical, mental, emotional and spiritual parameters (Kendall, 2015). Nurses should provide care in ways that are welcoming and try to educate patients on various issues geared towards eliminating misconceptions about these diseases. This would enable patients to accept both the diagnosis and treatment of the diseases. Therefore, apart from just addressing the physical parameter through periodic therapies the physicians and nurses ought to enlist the help of the family members, community, and society to help treat the mental and spiritual parameters of patients. By doing so, the whole care program would improve how the patients perceive their body image, improve their sense of identity and tackle both spiritual and practical issues.

As mentioned above, there are various aspects of treatment beyond the physical element that have to be considered to establish an ideal wellbeing of patients. These aspects are provided by the social and physical environments that surround patients. A patient that is surrounded by both positive social and physical environments tends to take a positive approach to his or her health situation thus finds the courage and hope in life. On the contrary, patients that are surrounded by negative environments often give up fast and may even refuse diagnosis and treatment altogether (Kieft, 2014). Therefore, this chronic illness should be treated in medical centers that foster positive environments for the patients, e.g. these centers should have people who have fought and conquered the chronic diseases. The purpose of these people would be to provide calmness in the mental and emotional parameters of patients. Furthermore, the general public should be encouraged to provide positive environments to patients of chronic diseases.

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