Background Health literacy means our ability to find our way in health issues, to understand health information and how to utilize them, that is how we can understand and use health information. Unfortunately, every second person has serious deficit in this area in Hungary.
Objectives We wished to determine the effectiveness of a specialized patient support program in Hungary.
Methods The present study was conducted between August, 2015 and December, 2016 in Hungary. Altogether 24 health professionals in 15 investigational sites including rheumatology, gastroenterology and dermatology centres were involved. All participating health professionals was qualified and skilled in patient education. We tried to enrol mainly new patients with relatively little knowledge of their chronic illness. The participation was completely voluntary. The programme was based on 4 presentations on various but closely related topics, presented in small-group sessions by health professionals, and then discussed with the patients. The topics of the lectures were as follows: How to manage stress, associated with the disease? How to deal with the emotional burden of the disease? How to use social support when fighting a chronic disease? How should I tell? (physician-patient communication). The theoretical framework of the lectures was composed by 2 psychiatrists, proficient in the subject. The health professionals had also received extensive training before the programme. Altogether 1950 participants were present at least one of the lectures: Only those were carried forward and allowed to complete the questionnaire who participated in all 4 lectures of different topics. Thus, 480 patients completed the 8 questions of the questionnaire that evaluated the effectiveness of the programme.
Results Among the 480 patients, who completed the study, 66% had joint and musculoskeletal complaints, 32% had inflammatory skin or gastrointestinal disease and 2% of them suffered from other chronic diseases. Altogether 24% was a member of a patient organization. Two-third of the patients felt better prepared for their consecutive doctor-patient or nurse-patient appointment after participating in the programme. In total, 49% of the responders found the doctor-patient communication lecture most helpful. In addition, 73% of them were able to successfully manage disease-related events and stress. Two-third of the patients wished to contact and/or keep in contact with a patient organization in order to take advantage of the opportunities of social support and 76% understood the place and role of patient organizations in the society. We wish to continue the programme in 2017 and we are aiming to target communication channels appropriate for the needs and opportunities of our age (e.g. Facebook).
Conclusions The educational programme described above was successful among our patients. We think that appropriate health literacy can lead to the better understanding of the disease and maybe to the improvement of unfavourable health indicators.
Disclosure of Interest None declared