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S. Vandenbroeck, F. Dobbels, S. De Geest, I. Stalmans, T. Zeyen; What Do Patients With Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) Know About Their Disease and Treatment?. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):2447.
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Knowledge concerning disease and treatment is an important cornerstone in chronic disease management. Yet, little is known about knowledge of patients with POAG. The purpose of this study was to assess gaps in their knowledge and to explore the relation between knowledge & socio-economic factors.
A cross-sectional observational study was performed in a sample of 82 patients (UZ Leuven, Belgium). Inclusion criteria were: >18 years; POAG in at least 1 eye; eye drops for ≥ 30 days; follow-up ≤ 6 months, able to understand/sign informed consent and Dutch speaking. Exclusion criteria were: laser/surgery in the past 3 months; inability to self-administer eye drops and severe visual dysfunction. The valid and reliable self-report questionnaire of Danesh-Meyer et al (2008) consisting of 22 statements was used to explore knowledge. The patients had to indicate if each statement was "true" or "false", resulting in a score of "0" (i.e. wrong) or "1" (i.e. correct). A total score was calculated by summing al individual scores (range: 0-22), with higher scores reflecting better knowledge. Frequencies were used for describing answers, Mann-Whitney and Kruskal-Wallis tests for group comparisons and a Spearman’s Rho for the correlation with age.
In a sample of 80 patients, the median knowledge score was 15.5 (range: 10-22). The questions causing most difficulties addressed symptoms (53%); the presence/absence of a relation between POAG and stress (43%), a healthy diet (30%), the use of a PC (32%) and fluorescent lights (58%); the process of visual field loss (37%) and the speed of visual deterioration (29%). Also questions about side effects (58%) and the aetiology of watering eyes (38%) seemed difficult. A moderate significant negative correlation between age and knowledge (r=-0.449, p<0.001), yet no significant differences between gender, ethnicity and marital status were found. Higher educated patients (i.e. partially or fully completed college/university) had significant higher scores (p<0.001). Patients with congenital glaucoma only tended to score better.
The median score was low, especially in patients with a lower educational level, indicating a need for patient tailored education. Patients with congenital glaucoma showed higher scores, possibly due to their lifelong experience with POAG. Since patients with glaucoma manage their regimen in daily life, investment in patient education should be a standard part of their medical regimen.
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