Rationale

Most people want to be better informed about every aspect of their health care. Apart from patients' expectations and satisfaction, there are a number of compelling reasons for physicians and other health providers to educate patients. The most important of these is better adherence to therapies (Gray et al., 2004; Rogers et al., 2005). Although the results of typical patient education efforts are modest (Haynes et al., 2002; Schroeder et al., 2004; van Eijken et al., 2003), education has the potential to improve health outcomes and reduce morbidity. Additional benefits to the physician include practice marketing through enhanced patient satisfaction (Aragon, 2003; Ganz, 2002) and prevention of malpractice actions (Eastaugh, 2004; Wissow, 2004).11,12

Existing data suggest that the most effective interventions available to clinicians for reducing the incidence and severity of the leading causes of disease and disability in the United States are those that address the personal health practices of patients (USPSTF, 1996). This implies movement of health care providers and patients toward a nontraditional relationship, in which encouragement of healthy lifestyles by providers and acceptance of responsibility for health behaviors by patients become the cornerstones of a new preventive care paradigm. Education of patients is critical to the implementation of this paradigm.

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