New research has shown that patients living with a long-term health condition can experience stigma that negatively impacts their health and can even slow recovery.
The burden of living with a long-term health condition is already heavy enough, but the stigma associated with them can severely impact patients’ lives and even slow the rate of healing or recovery.
A new study conducted by Wakefield Research and supported by Convatec, a medical product and technology company, has shown that a majority of patients living with long-term conditions such as diabetes, cancer, or chronic physical impairments experience social stigma and shame related to their condition. The majority of nurses caring for these patients recognize that the stigma impedes their quality of life and recovery.
“We already know that the impact of stigma on our patients cannot be understated,” says Karim Bitar, CEO of Convatec. “These survey results demonstrate why emotional and mental health is a societal health priority today.”
More time for care
The Wakefield Research study has shown that patients require other forms of care and support while dealing with these health conditions, but that many nurses and caregivers aren’t equipped or don’t have the time to deliver that care.
“We need to do more, as an industry, to help prevent stigma among these patients,” Bitar says, “by showcasing stories and experiences of how our patients live confidently, by providing peer-to-peer support, and by making conversations easier between friends, family, and care teams.”
The Wakefield Research study interviewed 200 patients or their caregivers and 200 nurses. Eighty-seven percent of patients agreed that people living with a long-term health condition faced social stigma. More than half the interviewed patients said that they would like more time with their medical professionals, while almost all of them stated that they wish they had more information about their medical condition.
Ninety-six percent of nurses agreed that they required more time and resources to properly care for their patients, while a majority agreed that they required access to further educational tools to better serve their patients.
In the wake of these findings, Convatec announced a renewed focus on patient support and care with their “forever caring” campaign. “We’re listening,” Bitar says. “In what has historically been a very product-focused industry, ‘forever caring’ is a commitment to the people we serve — and those very patients, caregivers, and nurses who participated in this survey.”
Convatec has engaged with over 300,000 healthcare professionals in the past year to provide resources and educational tools, such as the Convatec Academy of Professional Education. They are committed to expanding their me+ program, which provides information, recovery tools, and peer-to-peer support for people living with long-term health conditions. They also recently launched an app for nurses to streamline the process of selecting ostomy products and filling prescriptions. All these new and expanded services have been offered with first-rate patient care in mind.
Studies such as the one conducted by Wakefield Research reveal where the healthcare system can do more. It is up to the medical industries to listen to the patients and nurses and find new solutions to meet their needs.
“As we continue to bring to life our vision of pioneering trusted medical solutions to improve the lives we touch, we know that the needs of our patients and healthcare providers continue to change, and we must change with them,” Bitar says.