Background Biological agents have expanded pharmacological options for treatment of rheumatic diseases and revolutionized the therapeutic landscape. Their use usually requires parenteral application and some of them can be self - administered by patients. Patient’s education regarding biologics, including self-administration learning techniques, is therefore vital. Nurses play an important role in this process.
Objectives Patient education in Slovenia is performed individually in the outpatients’ clinic on the same day the treatment with biologics is introduced. The aim of our survey was to establish to what extentpatients understand their training and what additional information they miss. We tried to evaluate whether their training enables them for self-administration of biological medicines.
Methods The questionnaire wassent to 205 patients on biological agents, who were educated at our outpatients’ clinic from August 2010 onwards. The survey consisted of 22 claims and questions regarding biologics use. The survey was filled in and returned by 149 patients, 123 questionnaires were fully completed and were therefore analyzed. 63% of participants were women and 37% men. The average age was 52 years (22–85). The majority of participants were between 51and 60-years old (33%).
Results According to our survey 87% of the recipientsof subcutaneously administered biological medicines self-administered their medicine. Among the remaining 13%, 50% were injected by a district nurse at home, 37% by family members or friends and 13% went to the outpatients’ clinic for the administration (13%). The majority of patients (86%) conducted self-administration training on the same day they visited their rheumatologist. 75% of the patients had individual training and 25% of them group training. Most patients (86%) understood nurse’s explanation. 88% of the respondents completely agreed that the nurse answered all their questions. 63% were absolutely sure that they correctly injected their medicine. Handling the syringe seemed simple to most patients, only 2% found it complicated. The question:” What else would you like to know?” revealed that 39% of participants did not know the possible side effects, 24% wanted to know in which circumstances the biological agent should not be administered, 9% of patients did not know how to store medicines. 72% of patients knew whom to contact in case of further questions. 12% of patients did not know which documents were requiredto transfer biological medicines out of the country. 6% of patients claimed they did not receive written instructions.
Conclusions Results of our surveysuggest a high level of confidence and knowledge in patients who self-administer biological agents in Slovenia. The information provided during training seems to be most insufficient in the fields of biological medicines side effects, and situations where biologics should be temporarily discontinued. Our results imply that Slovenian patients on biologics are well-trained to perform self-administration. In order to maintain this level, additional educational approach should be considered, that would allow patients to share their experiences and cope with the dilemmas that arise in their everyday life.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared