Patient Education and Health Promotion

Patient Education and Health Promotion

Donna D. Gardner

Effective health education is invaluable to the health care of society. Respiratory therapists (RTs) educate patients by providing information about disease processes, medications, and treatment procedures. They teach patients how to perform diagnostic tests like basic spirometry, and they educate patients about health promotion issues such as tobacco cessation. RTs educate patients in all age groups, including geriatric, adult, adolescent, and pediatric patients. In certain situations, RTs educate the parents or the spouse of the patient in the home-care setting. RTs are also frequently called on to provide educational programs to patients with asthma and cystic fibrosis.

For these reasons, this chapter reviews important issues related to patient education, disease management, and health promotion.

The top five causes of death in the United States are heart disease, cancer, cerebrovascular disease, chronic obstructive lung disease (i.e., bronchitis and emphysema), and accidents.1 It is believed by most experts in health care that the majority of these illnesses are preventable. Public education about risk factors is the key to the prevention of these diseases and probably has the greatest potential for making an impact on health care in this country. Therefore, the emphasis in health care should be on health promotion and disease prevention. RTs will play a greater role in health promotion and prevention in the future.

Patient Education

If we think of patient care as customer service—which it indeed is—then we cannot ignore education as a crucial component of that service. Whether we buy a car or a television set, we expect the salesperson to educate us about the essential aspects of our purchase. We also expect this information to be provided in writing. Likewise, education is an essential component of patient care. For patients to assume or resume control of their health, they must be educated. Because they rely on the health care practitioner to provide this education, every respiratory care education program should include instruction regarding patient education.

Performance Objectives

Initially it is helpful for the RT to develop learning objectives that are appropriate for the specific patient education topic to be addressed. These learning objectives will help to clarify the teaching strategies that are needed for patient education sessions. Objectives should be stated in measurable terms so that the RT and the patient can recognize when the objective has been accomplished. Clear objectives describe what is to be accomplished and how evaluation will occur.

The format for writing an objective is as follows:

For example: At the end of the session, the patient will be given a metered-dose inhaler and spacer and be able to demonstrate the correct technique for using the metered-dose inhaler in 5 minutes or less.

Learning Domains

Learning occurs in three domains: cognitive, psychomotor, and affective. Some learning sessions will involve only one domain, whereas others may involve all three. The cognitive domain is very important, because it will address the knowledge that a patient needs regarding his or her illness and how to manage it. The psychomotor domain addresses the skills that the patient will need to acquire to perform specific treatment modalities (e.g., the use of metered-dose inhalers). The affective domain involves teaching patients about the necessary attitudes and motivations for successfully living with their diseases.

Cognitive Domain

The cognitive domain is probably the easiest to translate into learning objectives because it involves the facts and concepts that the RT wants the patient to know and apply by the end of the education session. Objectives for the cognitive domain might include the following:

Any factual information that you expect the patient to understand and apply falls under the cognitive domain. Action verbs for the cognitive domain are included in Table 49-1.2

Psychomotor Domain

Repetition and active involvement are important when teaching a psychomotor skill. RTs who teach new skills to patients need to provide plenty of opportunity for the patient to practice the activity. Simple demonstration of the skill to the patient is not enough. To confirm performance in the psychomotor domain, have your patients provide a return demonstration. Be sure to provide help and encouragement as needed. Be patient; not everyone develops skills at the same rate.

Examples of action verbs for the psychomotor domain are included in Table 49-2.2

Affective Domain

The patient’s attitudes and motivations influence his or her ability to learn. It is important to remember that, with patient education, timing is everything. Patients who have recently been given a poor prognosis or who are in pain are not in an optimal position to learn. Maslow suggested a hierarchy of needs, and he identified physiologic needs as the most basic of human needs, followed by safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization.3 Lower-level needs must first be satisfied before moving on to higher-level needs. For example, if a patient is dyspneic or in pain, he or she will probably not be receptive to learning the steps that are involved in cleaning a small-volume nebulizer. It is important for RTs to assess a patient’s readiness to learn by talking with the patient and his or her family and by listening to the patient’s concerns. It is important to develop a relationship of trust and to be empathetic with the patient.

The RT should begin with easy-to-master facts and skills. After the patient conquers these, motivation should increase, and the patient will have a feeling of accomplishment. Motivation is also enhanced by presenting material clearly with the use of a variety of teaching methods and by relating the facts and skills to practical applications. Getting patients to see how these skills will benefit them is the key to motivation. Communicating to the patient that there is something that he or she can do to maintain or improve his or her health and sense of well-being is important.

Objectives in the affective domain—using the oxygen therapy example mentioned earlier—might include the following:

Affective domain action verbs are included in Table 49-3.2

Teaching Tips

Following is a list of time-honored suggestions for improving patient education:

• Address the patient’s immediate concerns first.

• Create an optimal learning environment. Teach in a quiet and relaxed setting.

• Have patients use as many of their senses as possible during their learning session. Whenever possible, include hearing, seeing, smelling, speaking, touching, and doing.

• Keep sessions short. If the material is complex, break it down into brief segments.

• Repeat, repeat, repeat!

• Provide many opportunities for the patient to practice psychomotor skills.

• Be prepared.

• Be organized. People learn more quickly when they are presented with information that is well organized.

• Demonstrate enthusiasm for what you are doing. The learner can always sense your level of motivation.

• Evaluate in a nonthreatening manner, and provide helpful feedback. Use evaluation as a learning tool.

Teaching Children As Compared With Teaching Adults

Teaching children is often very different than teaching adults. Children are more motivated by external factors (e.g., prizes) as compared with adults, who tend to have internal motivating factors. This suggests that adults will learn quicker if they can easily see the intrinsic value of knowing more about their illness. Alternatively, children may need a more obvious reward system in place before learning can take place. They have no problem taking instruction from adults, because they are often dependent on such instruction. Adults, however, are more independent, and they do not like being dependent on others. This suggests that adults should be more involved in setting program goals and that they will readily learn skills that make them more independent. Other important issues related to differences between children and adult learners are listed in Box 49-1, and allocated time for teaching is given by age in Box 49-2.4

Evaluation of Patient Education

The critical question that remains when all of the patient education sessions are complete is, “Has the patient learned?” Evaluation is the process that answers that question. The method used to evaluate learning is determined by the measurable learning objectives (i.e., cognitive, affective, or psychomotor). Cognitive objectives are often evaluated with the use of a written examination. Objectives in the affective and psychomotor domains are evaluated with the use of performance checklists.

Informal evaluation should occur during the educational process. The RT can ask simple questions along the way to identify whether the patient has comprehended the information. If the patient provides an answer that is not correct, the RT should view this as an opportunity to repeat previous discussions or to present the material with a new approach. The RT must never convey disappointment or frustration when patients are having trouble learning new material.

49-1   Providing Patient and Caregiver Training

AARC Clinical Practice Guideline (Excerpts)*

Jun 12, 2016 | Posted by in RESPIRATORY | Comments Off on Patient Education and Health Promotion

Full access? Get Clinical Tree

Get Clinical Tree app for offline access