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M.H. Groppe, A. Kramer, S. Thanos, R.G. Smith, C.E. Uhlig; How Well Are Patients Informed? Patients' Information Sources in Ophthalmology . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2005;46(13):1949.
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Purpose: Active participation of patients in the management of their conditions can have an important effect on the clinical outcome. Adequate education of patients ensures their participation in management and their satisfaction. Little is known about the information sources patients use and how well informed they feel. The aim of this study was to investigate what sources patients use for information, how they perceive their knowledge about their condition and if there is the need for further education. Methods: A cross–sectional study was performed of 1100 patients who attended ophthalmology outpatient clinic at 6 secondary and tertiary centres in the UK (n=550) and Germany [GER] (n=550) using a questionnaire. Results: On average the patients felt moderately well informed in both countries (2,33 [UK] and 2.54 [GER], scale from 1[very well] – 5 [not at all]) about their condition. Most patients 72.9% in the UK but only 43.1% in Germany used more than one information source, with ophthalmologists (68.1% [UK] and 85.6% [GER]), opticians (52.3% [UK] and 2.7% [GER]) and family doctors (GP) (23.8% [UK] and 13.3% [GER]) being the most frequently reported. In the UK 44.2% and in GER 38.8% of the patients had access to the internet from home of whom 27.8% [UK] and 23.6% [GER] used it to gather information about their condition. Ophthalmologists and opticians were named as the most useful source of information in the UK and ophthalmologists and information leaflets in GER. The majority of patients (71.9% [UK] and 73.0% [GER]) indicated the need for further information of whom 70.3% [UK] (90.7% [GER]) would like to receive the information from their ophthalmologists, 21.6% [UK] (6.9% [GER]) from their optician, 40.2 % [UK] (22.7% [GER]) by leaflets and 27.6%[UK] (23.6% [GER]) from their GP. Conclusions: The results show that there is a need to target information to the need of patients. The majority of patients prefer to get more information directly from their ophthalmologists. Nevertheless there are intercultural differences in the preferences, which should be drawn into consideration for any attempt to improve patients' information. Additional education about a patients' condition may increase the ability to participate in the management, increase understanding and improve overall outcome.
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