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Chronic disease management perspectives of colorectal cancer survivors using the Veterans Affairs healthcare system: a qualitative analysis.

Zullig LL, Goldstein KM, Bosworth HB, Andrews SM, Danus S, Jackson GL, Provenzale D, Weinberger M, Kelley MJ, Voils CI. Chronic disease management perspectives of colorectal cancer survivors using the Veterans Affairs healthcare system: a qualitative analysis. BMC health services research. 2018 Mar 9; 18(1):171.

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BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the US. CRC survivors may have complex healthcare needs requiring care from both specialists and primary care. Our objective was to understand how CRC survivors perceive their survivorship care, especially management of their cardiovascular-related chronic diseases. METHODS: We identified patients diagnosed with non-metastatic CRC between 10/1/2007 and 12/31/2015 at Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in North Carolina or Virginia. In 2016, we conducted telephone-based, semi-structured interviews to assess survivors'' experiences with cancer survivorship and changes in health priorities. Interviews were conducted until thematic saturation was reached. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and coded. RESULTS: The 25 participants were, on average, 64 years old and approximately 4 years post-CRC diagnosis at the time of interview; most were white (60%), male (92%), and diagnosed with colon cancer (64%) as opposed to rectal cancer. CRC survivors reported: (1) a shift in focus from surviving cancer to reducing cardiovascular disease risk (e.g., by managing weight); (2) challenges with taking medications for CVD-related conditions; (3) new recognition of the importance of engaging with primary care providers. CONCLUSIONS: Experiences with cancer shapes how survivors view their health. Management of cardiovascular-related chronic disease is important to veteran CRC survivors. There is a need to deliver cardiovascular disease risk reduction programs tailored for CRC survivors.

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