Atypical symptoms, multiple co-morbidities and a lack of public awareness make it difficult for older adults to know when to seek help for sepsis. Diagnosis delays contribute to older adults’ higher sepsis mortality rates. This research describes patients’ and caregivers’ experiences with the symptom appraisal process, self-management strategies, provider-nurse-patient interactions, and barriers when seeking sepsis care. Convenience and purposive stratified sampling were utilized on two data sources. A nurse-patient and nurse-family caregivers were interviewed. Online stories by older adult patient survivors or family members from the Faces of Sepsis™ Sepsis Alliance website were analyzed. Emergent themes were identified using qualitative descriptive methods. Listlessness and fatigue were most bothersome symptoms for the nurse-family caregivers. Fever, pain and low blood pressure were most common complaints, followed by breathing difficulty, mental status changes and weakness. Patients expressed “excruciating pain” with abdominal and soft tissue sources of infection, and with post-operative sepsis. Concern was expressed that self-management strategies and medications create barriers by masking typical sepsis signs. Health care providers’ interpersonal interactions, lack of awareness of sepsis symptoms and guidelines, complacency towards older adults, and denial by patients were barriers. Further barriers were staff inexperience, delays, care omissions, and tension between health care providers, patients and caregivers—with emerging advocacy by patients and family. In conclusion, providers should assess previous self-management strategies when evaluating symptoms. At primary care visits or hospital discharge, older patients with risk factors need anticipatory guidance for sepsis symptoms and possible emergent infections—specifically patients with pre-existing risk factors such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia, or operative events. Public and professional education are needed to overcome a lack of urgency and understanding of symptoms for diagnosis, treatment and guideline adherence for inpatients and outpatient clinics. Further research on subjective sepsis symptoms may improve patient-clinician communications when evaluating sepsis in older adults.
|Advisor:||Buelow, Janice, Miller, Wendy R.|
|Commitee:||Brooks, JoAnn, Buelow, Janice, Latham-Mintus, Kenzie, Miller, Wendy R.|
|School:||Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis|
|School Location:||United States -- Indiana|
|Source:||DAI-B 79/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Gerontology, Nursing, Pathology, Sociology|
|Keywords:||Aged, Caregiver, Help-seeking behavior, Qualitative, Self-management, Sepsis|
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