Today, patient education is extremely important for the prevention of numerous health problems. Effective health care services begin with patient education because patients should be aware of possible risks they may be exposed to and how these risks can be prevented to protect their health from the development of different problems. In actuality, the high qualification of health care professionals is not enough because often patients fail to notice deterioration in their health that leads to the late diagnosing of serious health problems, whereas the behavior of patients may provoke the further deterioration of the health of patients, especially when patients refuse to cooperate with health care professionals. In such a situation, patient education becomes crucial for their collaboration with health care professionals and prevention of different health problems. The awareness of patients of different health problems and understanding ways of their prevention can increase consistently the effectiveness of the contemporary health care system because patients may identify health problems at the early stage of their development and receive essential health care services in time. Therefore, patient education is essential for the effective treatment of patients and for the prevention of numerous health problems in patients.
Obviously, patient education is the key to prevention of numerous health problems. The main goals of patient education are to help patients acquire the required skills for daily living without problems and to help patients cope with physiological and psychosocial problems (Curcani & Tan, 2011). Therefore, patient education contributes to the fast adaptation of patients after their recovery, especially, if patients have suffered from serious health problems, such as cancer or mental health problems. Patient education facilitates their reintegration in the society and returns them to their normal social life fast. At the same time, patient education can help them to cope not only with their psychological problems but also physiological ones that means that patient education increases the effectiveness of treatment and health care services.
Patient education can prevent such serious health problems as heart attacks or decrease their negative effects. For instance, improving the ability of individuals to recognize and respond to symptoms of a heart attack is one of the most important areas of patient education for nurses in all settings (Crumlish & Magel, 2011). Obviously, if patients can identify symptoms of upcoming heart attack they can undertake steps to prevent it or, at least, to call a doctor or emergency. Anyway, patients can understand that they do have problems with their heart and they will know what to do, if they have the proper education.
At this point, it is important to stress that patient education includes two basic stages. The first stage is the mental representation of the health threat, when the patient identifies heart attack symptoms, and labels the threat, possible causes, and potential consequences. At the first stage, patients can learn what steps they can undertake to prevent the threat and to avoid heart attack or, at least to minimize its risk. The second stage is the coping stage, in which an action plan is formulated and behaviors are initiated to meet the threat (Crumlish & Magel, 2011). At this stage, patients should become aware of steps they should undertake to cope with the heart attack. Educational programs should teach them specific action plans, which they should follow accurately, in case of heart attack. However, these stages are applicable not only to patients with heart disease but also to patients with other health problems. In fact, patient education programs should prepare patients to be able to implement two stages of the health problem treatment: prevention and coping. Both stages are equally important but patients should become aware of the importance of prevention because it is easier to prevent health problems than cope with them, especially when such serious health problems as heart attack occur.
At the same time, the perception of education programs by patients is very important in terms of the effectiveness of patient education and organization of the learning process. The analysis of patients’ perceptions of patient education formed five key elements identifying patient education: (1) procedure; (2) interaction; (3) educational method; (4) environment; and (5) benefits (Hatonen, et al., 2010). These five key elements should be taken into consideration, while developing educational programs for patients because patient education programs should have all of them. Otherwise, their effectiveness will be low. For instance, the low interaction in the course of patient education between patients and educators is likely to decrease the effectiveness of learning because patients will not be confident in educators or will not receive all the information they really need. Similarly, other elements are crucial for the successful implementation of patient education programs. Patients should understand benefits of their education because they can prevent the development of serious health problems and develop effective coping strategies.v
Today, health care professionals and health care organizations can use new methods and technologies for patient education. For instance, IT-based patient education can be used along with conventional patient education using standard leaflets (Hatonen, et al., 2010). Basically, the introduction of IT and modern telecommunication system can increase the effectiveness of patient education consistently and, more important, they can expand the target audience and involve a larger number of patients compared to conventional patient education methods. In addition, the use of IT-based patient education eliminates physical barriers between educators and patients. This means that patients can learn anywhere and anytime they like using IT and telecommunication systems. For instance, online education allows patients to obtain education at home. Therefore, patients can benefit from such education programs. On the other hand, it is obvious that patient education programs involving new IT and other technologies may need substantial investments. However, such investments will contribute to the consistent improvement of the public health because patient education has a number of benefits and helps patients to prevent numerous health problems, while their treatment could be extremely expensive, taking into consideration growing health care costs. Therefore, patient education helps to save not only health of patients but also their money because, if they prevent health care problems using knowledge and skills they acquired in the course of their education, they do not need costly treatment.
In fact, it is possible to refer to one of the recent studies, which has revealed the fact that implementing an anticoagulation teaching service provided by pharmacy students and residents significantly increased the rate of patient education and lowered readmission rate (Wilhelm & Petrovitch, 2011). This study proves the effectiveness of patient education because patient education contributes to the increases patients’ awareness of possible health problems and helps them to prevent and cope with them successfully.
Many health care organizations develop their educational programs to enhance visibility of health care services to increase patients’ awareness. For instance, a health care organization providing hemodialysis services developed a new patient education form for patients to read and sign. If the patient cannot read, the staff reads the form’s content to the patient at the beginning of each dialysis treatment. In such a way, patients grow aware of treatment process possible risks and their responsibilities (Saibu, 2011). Basically, patients’ awareness is one of the key factors that contribute to the effective prevention of health problems and their treatment. Many health problems progress because patients are not aware of possible risks. Often, patients’ cultural norms or personal beliefs prevent them from paying attention to health problems, which they believe to be either minor or insignificant to call a doctor. As a result, patient neglect their own health and develop health problems, which may transform into chronic diseases. In such a situation, patients’ awareness makes them confident of risks and first signs of health problems as well as patients learn what they should do to prevent the development of health problems.
However, patient education may face certain problems. Problems related to patient education described by patients may be the lack of information, problems in patient–staff interaction and a lack of prerequisite knowledge among patients and staff (Hatonen, 2008). Therefore, patient education programs should focus on the prevention and solution of these problems because they undermine the effectiveness of patient education. Patients should interact with educators effectively. In such a way, they will perceive the learning material easier and they will not have troubles with the application of the learned information in practice. Patient should have access to information that helps them to prevent and cope with different health problems. Moreover, patients should know where to find such information and be able to find such information without any external assistance, for instance, from the part of their educators. Finally, patients and health care professionals should share information effectively to conduct patient education successfully and prevent the development of health problems or treat patients effectively.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that patient education is crucial for the contemporary health care system. Patient education contributes to consistent improvement of the public health because patients can prevent and cope with numerous health problems. In addition, patient education decreases costs of health care services because patients can identify health problems at the early stage of the development of illnesses and they can receive treatment that is cheaper compared to the treatment they would need, if their health problem was identified at the late stage of the development of illness. Therefore, patient education programs can help patients to protect their health. Patient education programs should involve new technologies, which can help to expand the scope of education and to enroll a larger number of patients, making patient education available to patients.
Crumlish, C.M. & C.T. Magel. (2011). “Patient Education on Heart Attack Response,” Medsurg Nursing, 20(6), pp. 310-317. Retrieved on February 4, 2012 from http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.devry.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=07a2e5b8-cf78-4c0f-ab87-dde5b81a9939%40sessionmgr113&vid=1&hid=113
Curcani, M. & M. Tan. (2011). “Effect of the Education Given to the Patients Undergone Kidney Transplantation on the Life Quality and Compliance to Treatment and Anxiety and Depression Levels,” HealthMed, 5(4), pp. 753-758, Retrieved on February 4, 2012 from http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.devry.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=ddc0aa69-59ff-45ec-a505-9a454e55bcaa%40sessionmgr113&vid=1&hid=113
Hatonen, A. et al. (2010). “Patients’ Perception of Patient Education on Psychiatric Inpatient Wards: Qualitative Studies,” Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 17, pp. 335-341. Retrieved on February 4, 2012 from http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.devry.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=baed2d32-0ed8-4d16-90e4-06c8c5ffd4f9%40sessionmgr113&vid=1&hid=113
Hatonen, A. et al. (2008). “Mental Health: Patients’ experience of patient education during inpatient care,” Journal of Clinical Nursing, 17, pp. 752-762. Retrieved on February 4, 2012 from http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.devry.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=22ce889d-4576-4958-b405-f4e9c8f2a94c%40sessionmgr111&vid=1&hid=113
Saibu,R. et al. (2011). “Dialysis Line Separation: Maximizing patient safety through education and visibility of access site for patients on hemodialysis,” Nephrology Nursing Journal, 38(6), pp. 515-526. Retrieved on February 4, 2012 from http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.devry.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=7c645d13-9619-4ac6-9449-538db4bd3900%40sessionmgr114&vid=1&hid=113
Wilhelm, S.M. & E.A. Petrovitch. (2011). “Implementation of an Inpatient Anticoagulation Teaching Service: Expanding the role of pharmacy students and residents in patient education,” American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 68(1), pp. 2086-2093. Retrieved on February 4, 2012 from http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.devry.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=0e183d7f-c2d6-46db-841a-d038d3111cd2%40sessionmgr114&vid=1&hid=113