DOCTOR'S VIEW ARCHIVE

Patient Education…"Essential to Good Health Care"

INDIANAPOLIS, IN-Osteoarthritis is not only one of the many forms of joint disease, it is by far the most common. Osteoarthritis is associated with degeneration of the cartilage portion of the joint. The tendency toward developing osteoarthritis increases with age.

For patient's with joint disease, understanding of the condition and treatment plays a central role in maintaining maximal function. This fact was highlighted by a recent study by Dr. Steven A. Mazzuca and coworkers at Indiana University School of Medicine published in Arthritis and Rheumatism (1997;40:1466-74).

Dr. Mazzuca studied the effects of self-care education of 211 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Patients were divided into two groups. One group (education group) was given customized arthritis self-care instruction based on particular individual needs demonstrated during an assessment with a physician. Follow-up telephone calls at 1 and 4 weeks reinforced the patients' self-care regimens. The members of the second group (the control group) all initially viewed a twenty minute audio-visual standardized public education presentation about arthritis with followup phone calls at 1 and 4 weeks simply to encourage study completion.

The study found significantly less disability and pain symptoms in the group of patients that had received self-care education throughout a one year monitoring period.

The authors concluded that having the primary physician educate each patient about their particular condition and status together with emphasizing issues of self-care for the patients, results in a notable preservation of function and pain control. The authors also speculated that more detailed patient education would have an even greater and longer-lasting beneficial impact.