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Engaging patients and caregivers to establish priorities for the management of diabetic foot ulcers.

Zamani N, Chung J, Evans-Hudnall G, Martin LA, Gilani R, Poythress EL, Skelton-Dudley F, Huggins JS, Trautner BW, Mills JL. Engaging patients and caregivers to establish priorities for the management of diabetic foot ulcers. Journal of Vascular Surgery. 2021 Apr 1; 73(4):1388-1395.e4.

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OBJECTIVE: Effective diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) care has been stymied by a lack of input from patients and caregivers, reducing treatment adherence and overall quality of care. Our objectives were to capture the patient and caregiver perspectives on experiencing a DFU and to improve prioritization of patient-centered outcomes. METHODS: A DFU-related stakeholder group was formed at an urban tertiary care center. Seven group meetings were held across 4 months, each lasting ~1 hour. The meeting facilitator used semistructured questions to guide each discussion. The topics assessed the challenges of the current DFU care system and identified the outcomes most important to stakeholders. The meetings were audio recorded and transcribed. Directed and conventional content analyses were used to identify key themes. RESULTS: Six patients with diabetes (five with an active DFU), 3 family caregivers, and 1 Wound Clinic staff member participated in the stakeholder group meetings. The mean patient age was 61 years, four (67%) were women, five (83%) were either African American or Hispanic, and the mean hemoglobin A1c was 8.3%. Of the five patients with a DFU, three had previously required lower extremity endovascular treatment and four had undergone at least one minor foot amputation. Overall, stakeholders described how poor communication between medical personnel and patients made the DFU experience difficult. They felt overwhelmed by the complexity of DFU care and were persistently frustrated by inconsistent medical recommendations. Limited resources further exacerbated their frustrations and barriers to care. To improve DFU management, the stakeholders suggested a centralized healthcare delivery pathway with timely access to a coordinated, multidisciplinary DFU team. The clinical outcomes most valued by stakeholders were (1) avoiding amputation and (2) maintaining or improving health-related quality of life, which included independent mobility, pain control, and mental health. From these themes, we developed a conceptual model to inform DFU care pathways. CONCLUSIONS: Current DFU management lacks adequate care coordination. Multidisciplinary approaches tailored to the self-identified needs of patients and caregivers could improve adherence. Future DFU-related comparative effectiveness studies will benefit from direct stakeholder engagement and are required to evaluate the efficacy of incorporating patient-centered goals into the design of a multidisciplinary DFU care delivery system.

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