Once you have assessed your patient’s needs, concerns, readiness to learn, preferences, support, and possible barriers to learning, you will need to:
Be aware of what the patient knows about their condition now. Some patients need time to adjust to new information, master new skills, or make short- or long-term lifestyle changes.
Assessing your patient’s preferences will likely have a direct impact on the patient education materials you select and the methods you use.
With any type of patient education you will likely need to cover these basics:
There are so many ways to deliver patient education, such as one-on-one teaching, often with a demonstration. Try using analogies or “word pictures” to explain concepts.
You can also use one or more of the following examples:
Using a mixed media approach works best. The type of resources that a patient or support person responds to varies from person to person.
Keep your assessment in mind. Are there literacy, cultural, or other factors to consider when you select education materials and develop a plan?
Avoid fear tactics. Focus instead on the benefits of education. Tell your patient what to pay special attention to.
Be sure to review any materials you plan to share with a patient before using them. Keep in mind that no resource is a substitute for one-on-one patient teaching.
Sometimes, despite a thorough search, it is impossible to find patient education information or the right materials that fit your patient. For example, it may be hard to find materials on new treatments, in certain languages, or on sensitive topics. Bring up those sensitive or difficult topics. And, when high quality materials are not available, consider creating the patient teaching tool your patients need.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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