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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Patient Education - We Still Have Not Found What Works for Cardiac Patients

I spend a great deal of time with every patient focusing on education of their specific heart condition. I discuss their medications and their indications. I discuss proven primary and secondary measures.

Nevertheless, for a portion of my patients, my efforts do not seem to help. If you are reading this blog, you probably do not fit into this group. You are concerned with your health and are proactive. However, many patients do not take responsibility for their health. Why is this? Is it not fully understanding the medical importance? Are there psychological barriers (fear, embarressment, denial) at work?

A recent study in the Oct 6th Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes was very sobering. Researchers randomized 3522 high risk patients to either experimental or standard counseling. Patients in the experimental arm received education and counseling on the signs and symptoms of acute coronary syndromes, including how these symptoms could differ from their previous symptoms. Patients also had the opportunity to discuss various psychological barriers.

The patients were followed for 2 years. There was no difference between the two groups regarding the time it took them to present to the ED from symptom onset.

Wow - we, the medical community, have to find better ways to educate and motivate our patients. Any ideas?


  1. They key is probably not to focus on the one best way to educate all patients but to focus on the one best way for each individual patient. Some will respond to one-on-one, others video and others a combination of all of the above plus social media interactions and other things we haven't thought about yet.

  2. Dr. Portnay:

    Found this book on Patient Education that you might find interesting. Title: No Time to Teach, The Essence of Patient and Family Education for Health Care Providers, by Fran London MS, RN.

    Here's a link to her website and book http://notimetoteach.com