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An Interprofessional Approach to Chronic Conditions

Over 130 million Americans have one or more chronic illnesses and more than 70% percent of health care costs are expended on the care of patients with chronic disease. The increase prevalence of chronic conditions, particularly among the elderly, has led to new models of chronic care management. Management of chronic conditions focus on treating the disease, but also managing its symptoms and improving the function and quality of life of the patient/client. New practice guidelines continue to evolve in caring for patients with chronic conditions. Collaboration among health professionals is the best approach in caring for patients with chronic conditions, particularly forming a partnership between caregivers and patients. This collaborative model in managing patients with chronic conditions will enable patients to take an active role in their own care.

This series of learning modules will cover an important area of chronic conditions which all health care professionals should focus on in order to improve geriatric care.

Module 5: Caregiver and Family Support in Managing Chronic Conditions


Cecilia Borden, EdD, MSN
Tarae Waddell-Terry, MS

Christine Arenson, MD, E.Adel Herge, OTD, OTR/L, Christine Hsieh, MD, Nancy L. Chernett, MPH,
Christine Hsieh, MD, Leigh Ann Hewston, PT, MEd., Tracey Vause-Earland, MS, OTR/L

The Eastern Pennsylvania-Delaware Geriatric Education Center (EPaD GEC) is funded by the Department of Human and Health Services Grant #D31HP08834


Family caregiving involves providing unpaid care to a physically or cognitively impaired older family member, friend, or partner outside the realm of usual family support. (Curry, L. 2006). Educational needs of employed family caregivers of older adults: evaluation of a workplace project. Geriatric Nursing, 27(3), 166-173.

Chronic conditions are "any conditions that require ongoing adjustments by the affected person and interactions with the health care system."
(Improving chronic illness care, 2008)

Conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and tobacco are considered to be chronic conditions. Chronic conditions are continuing to increase; therefore developing innovative and impactful methods to deliver quality patient care are essential. It is suggested that: "133 million people, or almost half of all Americans, live with a chronic condition. That number is projected to increase by more than one percent per year by 2030, resulting in an estimated chronically ill population of 171 million."
(IImproving chronic illness care, 2008)

Caregiving can be rewarding and yet a challenge. The stress and strain of caregiving can be detrimental to the care provider’s health. The complexity of transitioning into the role of caregiver to identifying adequate resources for both the care recipient and care provider can be laborious. However, when proper resources have been identified for those involved it can make the process of caregving run smoothly. Furthermore, being an active member of the interprofessional healthcare team has its benefits.

The concept of this module is to give healthcare professionals and students and understanding of the caregiver role while utilizing an interprofessional approach to care.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this module, the participant will be able to:

  • Provide information regarding transitioning to the caregiver role.
  • Provide guidelines to assess caregiver parameters.
  • Identify caregiver concerns and current social supports.
  • Discuss the role of the interprofessional team in supporting older adults and families experiencing caregiver roles.
  • Promote understanding of the caregiver role and identification of care recipient resources.
Estimated time for completion: 30 minutes

Since this module will take approximately 30 minutes to complete, it is designed to track your progress allowing you to complete the module in more than one sitting. This progress tracking feature requires that you use the same computer each time you return to work on the module.

Technical Requirements and Notes:

This learning module uses Adobe Flash media and may require you to add a browser "plug-in" in order to display properly. Most computers already have this free plug-in installed. But, if yours does not, it is very easy to download and install. Try the module first because the software is "smart" enough to detect the Flash player. If the module doesn't begin, you will be automatically prompted to download the plug-in.

The module contains links to external websites which will open in a new browser window. Your browser's back button will not return to the module, so these new windows should be closed.

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