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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.[1] 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.

Health education is also a tool used by managed care plans, and may include both general preventive education or health promotion and disease or condition specific education.[1]

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.[2]
  • Risk Management - Lower risk of malpractice when patients have realistic expectations.[3]


References

  1. Peter R. Koongstvedt, "The Managed Health Care Handbook," Fourth Edition, Aspen Publishers, Inc., 2001, page 788 ISBN 0-8342-1726-0
  2. Krames Patient Education
  3. Patient Education Institute, Research evidence
  1. Doak, C. C., Doak, L. G., & Root, J. H. (1996). Teaching patients with low literacy skills http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/healthliteracy/doak.html
  2. London, F. (2009). No Time To Teach: The Essence of Patient and Family Education for Health Care Providers. Atlanta: Pritchett & Hull
  3. Rankin, S. H., Stallings, K. D., & London, F. (2005). Patient Education in Health and Illness (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

See also

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