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Patients’ perceptions of conservative treatment for a small abdominal aortic aneurysm

Authors Tomee SM, Gebhardt WA, de Vries JP, Hamelinck VC, Hamming JF, Lindeman JH

Received 23 August 2017

Accepted for publication 11 October 2017

Published 15 January 2018 Volume 2018:12 Pages 119—128

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PPA.S149822

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Doris YP Leung

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen


Stephanie M Tomee,1 Winifred A Gebhardt,2 Jean-Paul PM de Vries,3 Victoria C Hamelinck,1 Jaap F Hamming,1 Jan HN Lindeman1

1Department of Surgery, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, 2Health, Medical and Neuropsychology Unit, Institute of Psychology, Leiden University, Leiden, 3Department of Vascular Surgery, St Antonius Hospital, Nieuwegein, Leiden, the Netherlands

Background: An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a progressive, generally symptomless disease that could ultimately result in a fatal rupture. Current guidelines advise conservative follow-up, and preventive surgical repair once the risk of rupture outweighs the cost of repair (55 mm in men). In developed countries, the majority of patients are diagnosed with AAAs less than 55 mm, and so enter a period of conservative surveillance. An important question is how patients perceive and cope with risk of rupture, AAA diagnosis and treatment, and presented AAA information. The goal of this study was to gain insight into patients’ perceptions of conservative treatment for a small AAA to increase patient satisfaction.
Methods: We conducted semistructured in-depth interviews and used questionnaires measuring health-related quality of life (RAND 36-Item Health Survey 1.0), illness-perceptions (Illness Perception Questionnaire – Revised), and anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale). Interviews were audio recorded and transcript contents were analyzed based on grounded theory. Mean scores of the questionnaires were compared to (population) reference groups.
Results: This study included ten male patients under surveillance for a small AAA from two hospitals in the Netherlands. Patients expressed no fear for AAA rupture, and also reported low levels of anxiety and depression in both the interviews and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. The presence of an AAA did not affect their social life or emotional well-being. The reported poorer physical health on RAND 36-Item Health Survey 1.0 presumably reflected common presence of comorbidities. Participants stated to that they were content with the frequency and setup of AAA surveillance. However, they generally lacked knowledge about AAA disease and/or treatment options.
Conclusion: Conservative AAA follow-up ensures patients that the risks of AAA disease are limited. The vascular surgeon is the most important source of AAA information to patients, and patients fully rely on their vascular surgeon to take control in AAA treatment.

Keywords: abdominal aortic aneurysm, patient perceptions, patient preference, quality of life, interviews, patient-reported outcome measures

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