Friday, January 17, 2014

Important Facts On Patient Education Handouts

By Marissa Velazquez

Over the years, service healthcare service delivery has greatly improved in many countries all over the world. This improvement is attributable to a number of things. One of the reasons as to why this has happened is the increase in competition among the various players in the industry as each of them seeks to attract and keep their pool of clients. The other main reason is the recognition, by law, of various patient rights. Patient education handouts meet a legal requirement of patient right to information.

There are two types of handouts that one can choose from. These are the locally produced (within the facility) and those that are obtained commercially (pre-printed). Each type is associated with both advantages and disadvantages. Commercially available types have the advantage of being easy to obtain but are usually more expensive. In addition, they do not usually convey the message as desired. Locally produced materials are labour intensive but are cheap and convey the message precisely.

When developing the materials, one of the most important things to do is to develop objectives that will help guide the process. You need to know the intended goals from the beginning. For example, your aim may be to educate your patient on their condition and nothing else. Alternatively, it may be a way of ensuring that they are adherent to the prescribed treatments. Another common objective is to encourage the clients to modify their behaviours.

There are a number of factors that play a major role in determining the type of design that is to be used. One of the factors is whether the materials are meant for single use or for frequent reference. Also, if the patient will be required to give responses (feedback) through writing, for example, this should be planned for in advance. The designer needs to clearly know who the intended target is. This may be the entire patient population or just those with specific conditions.

An appropriate writing style should be chosen. In this regard there have a number of things that you need to have in mind. For instance, the use of medical jargon must be avoided at all costs. If any technical terms are used, then these should be clearly defined in simple terms. It is recommended that the active form of speech rather than the passive is used as this communicates directly to your reader. Use of the second person is also preferred to the third person when addressing the reader.

Complex sentences are often confusing and should not be used. Instead choose simple, short sentences that communicate your message precisely. The number of words that contain more than three syllables should be as few as possible. Once the content has been written down, you can check readability by using a few sample clients. Ask for areas of difficulties and make changes as appropriate.

The language and the style that is chosen have to be in line with the education levels of the clientele. At times, there is need to conduct research to know the education level for the desired group of clients. In the event that this is not possible, then the simplest style is chosen. The content must be up to date and accurate.

Patient education handouts are an important tool in educating clients. They ease the burden on the healthcare worker and allow them to allocate less time for this exercise. They are particularly important in preventive medicine and should be adopted by any healthcare worker keen on making a positive difference.

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