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Experiences of coordinated care for people in the UK affected by rare diseases: cross-sectional survey of patients, carers, and healthcare professionals.

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BACKGROUND: Poorly coordinated care can have major impacts on patients and families affected by rare conditions, with negative physical health, psychosocial and financial consequences. This study aimed to understand how care is coordinated for rare diseases in the United Kingdom. METHODS: We undertook a national survey in the UK involving 760 adults affected by rare diseases, 446 parents/carers of people affected by rare diseases, and 251 healthcare professionals who care for people affected by rare diseases. RESULTS: Findings suggested that a wide range of patients, parents and carers do not have coordinated care. For example, few participants reported having a care coordinator (12% patients, 14% parents/carers), attending a specialist centre (32% patients, 33% parents/carers) or having a care plan (10% patients, 44% parents/carers). A very small number of patients (2%) and parents/carers (5%) had access to all three-a care coordinator, specialist centre and care plan. Fifty four percent of patients and 33% of parents/carers reported access to none of these. On the other hand, a higher proportion of healthcare professionals reported that families with rare conditions had access to care coordinators (35%), specialist centres (60%) and care plans (40%). CONCLUSIONS: Care for families with rare conditions is generally not well coordinated in the UK, with findings indicating limited access to care coordinators, specialist centres and care plans. Better understanding of these issues can inform how care coordination might be improved and embrace the needs and preferences of patients and families affected by rare conditions.


Acknowledgements: Thank you to Emma Hudson for leading on the design of the survey and data collection for the study, and contributing to drafting of the initial manuscript. We are grateful to all of the research participants who took part in this study and to our contacts at each study site who helped to co-ordinate the study and recruit participants. We thank the members of the PPIAG and Study Steering Committee for their advice, support and critical thinking.


Care coordination, Care coordinator, Care plan, Rare conditions, Rare diseases, Specialist centre, Survey, Adult, Humans, Caregivers, Cross-Sectional Studies, Rare Diseases, United Kingdom, Delivery of Health Care

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Orphanet J Rare Dis

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
NIHR Evaluation Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (16/116/82)