Background: Patient centered care is a mechanism to encourage healthcare consumers to work together with health care professionals to achieve quality outcomes In the VA, non-adherence to treatment recommendations is problematic. Non-adherence results in poor use of VA resources as veterans come in for care but do not follow through with recommended treatment plans. Besides asking veterans about their health goals and preferences, understanding the veteran’s orientation regarding health beliefs and motivators for adherence to recommended treatment plans is essential for nurses who aim to help the veteran achieve healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine veteran’s health beliefs and the relationships among veteran’s health beliefs and adherence to the treatment plan in order to better understand how to deliver effective patient centered care to the Veteran population.

Method: This study was conducted at a small rural VHA facility, using a descriptive correlational design and a convenience sample (N= 84) of Vietnam veterans, ages 54-64, who were prescribed diet, exercise, and medications in the treatment of hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and/ or diabetes. Subjects were surveyed using a self-administered questionnaire that included standardized measures of health beliefs. Treatment adherence was measured by attendance to primary care appointments to address hypertension, hyperlipidemia, or diabetes.

Results: Data analysis was conducted using a two-tail Pearson correlation analysis and linear regression analysis. The major findings of this study were that, in veterans, adherence is negatively associated with perceived severity of illness but positively associated with the perception susceptibility for becoming ill. Veterans will adhere to the treatment plan if they perceive susceptibility to illness but their adherence may wane if they perceive the severity of the illness increasing.

Conclusion: The findings of this study have significant relevance to nursing. Understanding the health beliefs of veterans and the impact on adherence to the treatment plan is important knowledge if nurses are to help veterans overcome ambivalence to change. These findings suggest a potential for Motivational Interviewing techniques to support self-management regimens in a patient-centered approach.

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