Chronic disease patients are often in and out of doctors’ offices and hospitals, spending their time educating nurses and doctors about their own disease – their symptoms, their medication, their own history. Many chronic patients speak openly about their frustrating experiences, noting that they have to have to have a doctor-level understanding of their condition to best advocate for themselves. However, many others are unable to take the time to fully educate themselves on their disease. These patients are often left with many questions, overwhelmed and less confident in their ability to manage their condition and its symptoms.
A new study, The Other 45, looked at 47 chronic disease patients who spoke one-on-one with a medical student for 45 minutes. Patients met with medical students three weeks after their first session, and again three months later. The result was improved patient outcomes, providing patients with the willingness and ability to manage their own care. The Other 45 confirms prior research that has also suggested access to education is a way to improve patient outcomes.
"Patients reported a greater understanding of their chronic disease and feeling better equipped to manage their health," said Alexis Stoner, PhD, director of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine and lead author of this study, in a statement. "This is encouraging because these diseases typically require patients to take on a lot of responsibility in their care, often through changes in lifestyle."
The study attributed better patient outcomes to patients knowing more about the health care system, access to information and increased confidence when self-monitoring. Furthermore, the study found that taking the time to speak with patients about their disease helped inform medical students about the disease and improved their ability to relate to patients.
At the Chronic Disease Coalition, we believe that patient education is critical to mitigating symptoms and managing disease. To learn more, sign up here.