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M. Groppe, K. Amissah-Arthur, S. Scotcher; What Is My Problem? Patients and Their Knowledge. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):5078.
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Patients’ knowledge about health conditions is mandatory for their active participation in the management of their conditions and this can have an important effect on their clinical outcome. The aim of this study was to investigate patients’ knowledge of their ocular diagnosis, to assess if they knew when they were first diagnosed and to assess if patients and their treating ophthalmologists felt that there was a need for further education about their condition.
A cross-sectional questionnaire-based study was performed of 105 follow up patients who attended ophthalmology outpatient clinic at a British General District Hospital. The attending ophthalmologist filled in a corresponding questionnaire.
100 patients returned the questionnaire (95.8%). The average age was 70.9 years (range 29-95). 22% of patients did not know their diagnosis and a further 8% thought they had a different condition. 33% of these patients did not request any further information about their condition.Patients with diabetic retinal disease did not know their diagnosis in 54% of cases (n=22), patients with glaucoma in 25% (n=24) and patients with retinal conditions other than diabetes and AMD in 75% (n=14). On the contrary patients with the diagnosis of age related macular degeneration (n=8), cataract (n=14) or corneal problems (n=4) were aware of their condition in 100% of cases. 44% of patients did not accurately recollect the time of onset of their condition.42% of patients indicated further need for information, whereas 56% were satisfied with their knowledge. There was no significant correlation between the ophthalmologists’ assessment of the need for further information and the patients’ wishes (50% matching).
With nearly one third of patients not being aware of the nature of their condition there appears to be a need for additional education. Ophthalmologists should assess this need directly, and not assume that patients are aware of their diagnosis, especially in chronic conditions such as glaucoma and diabetes. Additional education about a patient’s condition may increase their ability to participate in the management of their condition, increase understanding and improve quality of care.
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