Patient Education

Patient Education

Laura Robbins

John P. Allegrante

At a time of groundbreaking medical advances in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and musculoskeletal diseases, patient education has become an essential component in providing comprehensive care and in achieving positive clinical outcomes. These advances, coupled with novel education delivery systems such as the Internet, have created consumer demand for information from patients, their families, and the general public. This is converging at a time when research and systematic evaluation have demonstrated that patient education can have an effect on pain, functional ability, and psychological status. Moreover, patient education for management of arthritis and related diseases includes not only providing information and knowledge, but also utilizing a variety of strategies to support healthy beliefs, behaviors, and skills to cope with the daily stresses and challenges that arthritis presents. This framework has led to the continued emphasis on demonstrating the efficacy of programs, the mechanism by which they work and for whom they will work, and the application of processes and programs that are designed to reach a broad base of patient populations.


Patient education has been defined as planned learning experiences designed to help individuals make voluntary adaptation of behaviors or beliefs conducive to health. The concept of “voluntary adaptation” is the key to successful patient education programs and relates to issues of motivation and compliance. There are three major components to effective education programs. First, education programs should have well-defined and measurable goals and learning objectives targeted toward specific groups of individuals with similar forms of arthritis. Second, they should be “user friendly,” taking into account cultural beliefs and attitudes about the etiology and treatments of diseases and their impact on behavioral change. Third, patient education programs should be directed toward identifiable, achievable, and measurable outcomes. Patient education should be a process designed and tailored to help patients adopt, maintain, and prevent relapse of disease-relevant self-management behaviors. The key psychological construct underlying these components is fostering patient self-efficacy to help a person gain confidence in performing a particular disease-relevant self-management behavior and in overcoming barriers to the conduct of that behavior.


Patient education programs must have well-defined goals and objectives to be successful. Some authorities have emphasized that patient education goals are similar to those of traditional medical care: to improve function, relieve pain, enhance psychological well-being, maintain satisfactory social interaction and employment, and control disease activity. It has been demonstrated that the additional aims of patient education are to maintain or improve health and to slow down the deterioration. Most well-designed goals of patient education programs are provider-initiated and based on careful diagnostic assessment of the
patient’s educational needs. Other programs are designed based on mutual goals agreed upon by the patient and the health care provider. This design often utilizes assessment methods such as focus groups to understand what knowledge patients have about their disease, what their beliefs and attitudes are about their disease, what information and behavioral skills or supports they need to learn so as to feel empowered and be able to manage their arthritis or related illness. Table 11-1 summarizes the broad goals as they relate to effective patient education programs.

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Jul 29, 2016 | Posted by in RHEUMATOLOGY | Comments Off on Patient Education
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