An Annual Wellness Assessment Tool Developed for Women with Spinal Cord Injuries: An Interprofessional Approach
Women living with Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) represent the minority (22%) of the population specific to the injury (National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, 2013). While most health professions are familiar with the changes in strength and sensation below the site of injury (Anjum et al., 2020), individuals diagnosed with SCI experience a diverse set of chronic conditions, such as depression, urinary tract infections, and osteoporosis (Sezer et al., 2015). An interprofessional annual wellness visit specific for women with SCI would provide patient-centered care focused on secondary prevention to address chronic conditions and has the potential to decrease incidence of medical errors, decrease costs associated with overlooked chronic conditions, and avoid unnecessary and duplication of diagnostic tests, while providing a more fulfilling and cohesive experience for the patient (Rosen et al. 2018).
An interprofessional team of second-year students representing dentistry, medicine, nursing, public health, and respiratory therapy completed a literature review, researching assessment, procedures, and education measures based on their professional training. The team collaborated to construct a swimlane model to develop an assessment tool, removing redundancy and assigning procedures based on clinical relevance. The group coordinated the schedule and workflow of the wellness visit to optimize efficiency and quality.
The interprofessional swimlane model-derived annual wellness assessment tool describes how to apply a team-based approach to patient evaluation and education. Nursing staff initiates the visit and serves as a primary educator. Medicine conducts an initial assessment and evaluation, and based upon findings, referrals will be made to dentistry and physical, occupational, and respiratory therapy. Public health students initiated the development of an education health box. Population-based interventions were included specifically focusing on gender. The health box contains items such as a cervical collar, wheelchair voucher, self-catheterization kit, and an informational pamphlet with supportive resources for caregiver burnout, sexual function and fertility and oral hygiene.
An interprofessional approach for females with SCI can improve patient care and quality of life by ensuring all healthcare professionals are working as a team to provide holistic or comprehensive care. Interprofessional teamwork eliminates medical errors, lessens patient’s costs, and decreases unnecessary tests and procedures, resulting in overall improved patient results.
Each health professional provides a unique but team-based role in patient care and is vital to the overall health of the patient. An interprofessional approach provides patient-centered care and should be implemented in the healthcare system for any patient population.