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Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) Patient Education Strategy

Traci Stewart


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Conference: 2009 PH Resource Network Symposium

Release Date: 09.24.2009

Presentation Type: Abstracts

Traci Stewart, RN, MSN
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA

PURPOSEEducating patients with chronic illness is essential to provide the tools to monitor and manage health conditions. Teaching self-monitoring techniques leads to early identification of symptoms. Early intervention can prevent or shorten hospitalizations related to fluid retention or infection, cut costs, and decrease patient's emotional distress. In addition, maximizing patient education improves PAH coordinator efficiency.

BACKGROUNDWhen evaluating chronic care models, patients reported that when working with healthcare providers, there was minimal time spent setting personal goals, tailoring specific individual interventions, and arranging follow-up and coordination. PAH care coordination and patient education must be tailored to individual needs. Performing patient education for long sessions when patients are admitted or during initial PAH clinic evaluation is suboptimal. Knowledge retention during admission has been demonstrated to be minimal. Patients presenting for PAH evaluation are often new to the institution, and have long clinic appointments combined with diagnostic testing. This stress combined with baseline fatigue makes concentration difficult.

METHODOLOGYImplementing a patient education strategy of introducing PAH materials in small segments was needed to facilitate PAH goal-setting and improve PAH nurse efficiency. Verbally discussing short topics of education with written handouts was implemented. Priority patient education was delivered at initial appointments and reinforced at follow-up appointments. This change proved to be less time consuming for PAH coordinators once the initial smaller educational topics were constructed. The system was easy to implement with the goal to improve knowledge retention and application for patients. Program and disease-specific education topics such as disease process, diagnostic testing, symptom monitoring, dietary compliance, activity, and medications enabled the patient to work on smaller portions of self-management, rather than becoming overwhelmed with excessive information. PAH coordinators are able to teach with individualized styles, and can focus patient education within time allotted during busy clinics. An electronic checklist was created to track education over time. This tool served as a mechanism for nurses to document each topic of education and areas requiring reinforcement. A PAH post-test and patient satisfaction survey were created to track knowledge and response to teaching sessions once areas of education were completed.

FINDINGSThis change in teaching strategy enabled PAH coordinators to focus on smaller topics of patient education and improved documentation of patient education. Education handouts could be given to reinforce verbal discussion allowing for improved nurse efficiency. This strategy may improve patient knowledge and self-management skills, possibly leading to decreased hospitalizations. The patient's overall satisfaction and ability to cope with PAH may improve with the implementation of a new teaching strategy, therefore reinforcing the importance of management by a multidisciplinary team of PAH specialists.

IMPLICATIONSEducation is the key to supporting patients with chronic illness. Further collection of data is ongoing and necessary to document the patient response to this patient education strategy.