Quality of life improves for tracheostomy patients with return of voice: A mixed methods evaluation of the patient experience across the care continuum

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Journal Article
Intensive and Critical Care Nursing, 2018, 46 pp. 10 - 16
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd Objectives: A tracheostomy tube can profoundly impact ability to communicate. The impact of this on patients’ self-esteem and quality of life in the care continuum from the intensive care unit to after decannulation has not been reported. Therefore, the aim was to investigate the patient-reported experience regarding change in communication function, communication-related self-esteem and quality of life. Research design: A mixed methods approach was utilised. Quantitative data were obtained using validated measures of self-esteem related to communication-related quality of life and general health. Data were measured before return of voice, within 48 hours of voice return and six months after tracheostomy decannulation. Qualitative data were collected through structured interviews six months after tracheostomy. Results: Seventeen participants completed the study. Four themes emerged from the interviews: It's hard communicating without a voice; What is happening to me?; A storm of dark emotions and More than a response…it's participating and recovering. Significant positive change occurred in six items of self-esteem related to communication from baseline to return of voice. Overall, positive changes in quality of life scores were observed. Conclusions: Voice loss with tracheostomy significantly affected participants’ abilities to effectively communicate their care and comfort needs. Restoration of voice occurred in conjunction with patient-reported improved mood, outlook and sense of recovery.
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