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Patient education is an aspect of health education in which health professionals and others impart information to patients that will alter their health behaviors or improve their health status. Education providers may include: physicians, pharmacists, registered dietitians, nurses, hospital discharge planners, medical social workers, psychologists, disease or disability advocacy groups, special interest groups, and pharmaceutical companies.
Important elements of patient education are skill building and responsibility: patients need to know when, how, and why they need to make a lifestyle change. Group effort is equally important: each member of the patient’s health care team needs to be involved.
The value of patient education can be summarised as follows:
- Improved understanding of medical condition, diagnosis, disease, or disability
- Improved understanding of methods and means to manage multiple aspects of medical condition.
- Improved self advocacy in deciding to act both independently from medical providers and in interdependence with them.
- Increased Compliance – Effective communication and patient education increases patient motivation to comply.
- Patient Outcomes – Patients more likely to respond well to their treatment plan – fewer complications.
- Informed Consent – Patients feel you’ve provided the information they need.
- Utilization – More effective use of medical services – fewer unnecessary phone calls and visits.
- Satisfaction and referrals – Patients more likely to stay with your practice and refer other patients.
- Risk Management - Lower risk of malpractice when patients have realistic expectations.
- Doak, C. C., Doak, L. G., & Root, J. H. (1996). Teaching patients with low literacy skills http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/healthliteracy/doak.html
- London, F. (2009). No Time To Teach: The Essence of Patient and Family Education for Health Care Providers. Atlanta: Pritchett & Hull
- Rankin, S. H., Stallings, K. D., & London, F. (2005). Patient Education in Health and Illness (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins