Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Having Informed Patients Turns Out to Be a Positive Thing

Taking the time to encourage patients to study or “read up” on a health topic before the office visit can made the visit pay off in more dividends according to a recent study.  The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, Decision Making in Prostate Cancer Screening Using Decision Aids vs Usual Care: A Randomized Clinical Trial, shows that informed patient have more productive office visits.

In the study, 1983 men were divided into three groups:

  1. Patients given prostate cancer printed patient-education screening materials  
  2. Patients who utilized a web-based decision-making tool and 
  3. Men who received, “usual care.” 
The study researchers (Kathryn L.Taylor, PhD and colleagues) found that the men who used the web-based decision-making tool ended up knowing more about cancer of the prostate and experienced “reduced decisional conflict” compared with the patients who had the “usual care.”

There was an additional benefit for patient satisfaction too.  60% of the men given the printed materials reported they were “highly satisfied” from a patient satisfaction standpoint.  52% of the web-based tools were “highly satisfied.”

We know that medical practice workflow and time constraints have an impact on this type of communication and planning with patients.  This is another example of what patient health advocates have been saying all along -- that specific discussions with patients, giving them resources, and concentrating on a patient-centric practice will increase patient satisfaction and most likely patient adherence as well.

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photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg via photopin cc