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Information and Patient Support

Importance of Education

The education of patients and their families should be a component of a pulmonary rehabilitation program.

There are numerous benefits associated with education, including:

  • Helping patients become active participants in their health care.
  • Helping patients and their families gain a better understanding of the physical and psychological changes that occur with chronic illness.
  • Helping patients and their families to explore ways to cope with those changes.

Through the educational process, patients can become more skilled at collaborative self-management and more adherent to their treatment plan which in turn may result in a reduction in hospital admissions. [For further details, see Nici et al ATS/ERS statement on pulmonary rehabilitation 2006, Effing et al Cochrane review of self management 2007.

Changing patient beliefs and behaviours so as to enhance their willingness to maintain their exercise program will help maintain quality of life and exercise tolerance as well as reduce symptoms.

Adult and health education literature should be reviewed in regard to the most effective methods of group and health education techniques.  Patient information in the form of leaflets or a patient information manual may be useful.  A number of patient information leaflets are available from Lung Foundation Australia’s (LFA) web page Lung Foundation Australia.  “Better Living with COPD – A Patient Guide” is a funded project of the Statewide COPD Clinical Network, Clinical Practice Improvement Centre, Queensland Health and the LFA, COPD National Program.  This patient guide outlines the important steps that make living with COPD better.  Links have been made to this patient guide within relevant education topics.  For more information about this patient guide and how to use it, contact LFA (phone 1800 654 301 or website http://www.lungfoundation.com.au). LFA has also developed the online patient education tool C.O.P.E (COPD online patient education). The C.O.P.E. program has been developed to enable patients who do not have access to a pulmonary rehabilitation program to be able to undertake the educational component of pulmonary rehabilitation from the comfort of their own home. This easy to use, interactive and informative program can also be used to complement a pulmonary rehabilitation program or simply as a reference point for information on living with a lung disease.

Providing information and skills to enhance self-management in an interactive session (including the processes of action planning, problem-solving and feedback) is more effective than didactic teaching.

The following strategies may help patients retain information*:

  • Use of active, rather than passive, participation.
  • Use of repetition to reinforce key messages.
  • Variation in presentation methods (visual, auditory, active participation).  The use of pictures, diagrams, videos and models may be helpful for some sessions (e.g. pictures for exercise, models for anatomy, equipment for medication).
  • Provide participants with written material to take home for review or to share with their family or caregiver.
  • Use demonstrations, rather than pure didactic teaching.
  • Look for opportunities to individualise information.
  • Provide problem solving tasks as these tasks can:

o    Encourage interaction between participants.

o    Provide participants with an opportunity to apply knowledge to practical situations.

o    Allow participants to demonstrate the knowledge they have acquired.

* Memory deficits have been noted in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).