Background Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease, which management benefits from Patient Education Programs (PEP). According to national health authority recommendations, French patients are encouraged to help in designing and implementing PEP. With the support of the French Society of Rheumatology, ANDAR, the national patient organization against RA, decided to implement a one-year pilot program of Peer Patient Educators (PPE) within hospitals. This pilot program was selected by the French Ministry of Health and extended to other hospitals for an additional year.
Objectives The objectives were to recruit, train, and integrate PPE within multidisciplinary teams and to evaluate their involvement.
Methods This was a multicenter national study, over two years, supervised by a steering committee composed of patient representatives, rheumatologists, a psychotherapist and a consultant agency specialized in PEP. PPE candidates were recruited by healthcare professionals within each hospital unit caseload. Candidates were screened by ANDAR and the consulting agency. Candidates underwent 42 hours of training (PEP basics, confidentiality, facilitation, active listening, and group animation skills medical knowledge). After discussion among project organizers, trainees were integrated within their hospital unit PEP where they had the opportunity to participate in program design, educational diagnosis and workshop animation. For the first year, evaluation included the acceptability of the PPE within PEP and their involvement extent. Recommendations were made as to best practices for PEP.
Results 11 rheumatology units were involved, 21 PPE trained and 19 involved
Year 1: 5 units approached, 4 involved; 8 PPE selected and trained, 6 finally involved (1 disease aggravation, 1 unavailable)
Activities: Educative diagnosis and PEP workshop animation (1), PEP workshop animation (4), interplay patients/educators (1)
High acceptance of the PPE by other patients; Good acceptance from healthcare professionals despite a few instances of resistance
II – Feasibility
Favorable conditions: PEP experience within the unit, Recognition of added values brought by patients, PPE selection by the units themselves, Early information of the unit team about the project, Quality of the training provided, Innovative project, Acceptance of patient organization involvement within the healthcare system
Blocks: Units understaffing, Previous unsuccessful collaborating experiences with patients, Resistance to change, Doubts about PPE emotional resilience, Fears around sharing confidential medical information with PPE
Year-1 evaluation allowed us to improve our selection criteria for candidates as well as our training program.
Year 2 9 units approached, 7 involved; 14 PPE selected, 13 trained; 13 involved
Activities: PEP workshop animation (13)
Conclusions We fulfilled the objective of integrating trained PPE with hospital-run RA PEP, and evaluation shows strong commitment of PPE. The second year confirms the project feasibility. Today, PPE commitment and beneficial input keep growing. New PEP units willing to join the program in following years.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared
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