english.prescrire.org > Spotlight > Archives : 2011 > Therapeutic patient education: take advantage of the best and steer clear of the worst

Spotlight: Archives

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Therapeutic patient education: take advantage of the best and steer clear of the worst

Therapeutic patient education is only beneficial to patients if programmes are properly supervised and all those involved remain vigilant to avoid potential abuse.

Patient education is one way for patients to acquire skills and knowledge related to heath and managing their illnesses and treatments.

Prescrire has always supported patients’ right to be involved in decisions concerning them and argued for them to be given practical opportunities to do so. But Prescrire also underlines the fact that the increase in patient education provided for by the French law known as “Hôpital, patients, santé and territoire”,  requires stringent monitoring to avoid potential abuse. (1)

Therapeutic patient education is attractive to pharmaceutical firms and their PR agencies seeking to boost patient loyalty to their drugs.

A number of issues still need to be clarified with regard to the application of the law: the effective supervision of patient education programmes by the regional health authorities; the role of patient groups, protecting patients from conflicts of interests with the firms; the quality and independence of the training of patient education counsellors; the role of healthcare professionals.

The law envisages giving healthcare professionals important responsibilities: inviting patients to take part in the programmes, coordinating the programmes and participating in them as counsellors, etc.

Prescrire advises healthcare professionals to appraise patient education programmes critically and urges them, and patients, to report any programme that seems dubious or inappropriate.

©Prescrire 1 May 2011

"Patient education: keep the best, avoid the rest" Prescrire Int 2011; 20 (116): 138  (pdf, free)

1 - The Hôpital, Patients, Santé, and Territoire (HPS) law was passed by the French Parliament in the summer of 2009. One of the most important aspects of the bill is the creation of regional-level bodies known as Agences Régionales de Santé (ARS), which as of April 1, 2010 have the powers and functions previously performed by seven bodies at the departmental and regional levels.

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