Her blog highlights a number of key themes that emerge from the evidence:
- Information is effective therapy. Access to good quality health information—written or electronic—can increase people’s knowledge, understanding, and ability to cope. The impact is greater when written information is targeted, personalised, and reinforced by verbal information from clinicians.
- Patient involvement leads to better clinical decisions, especially when these are supported by evidence based decision aids for patients, and effective decision support by specially trained staff. This leads to better communication, more accurate risk perceptions, and more appropriate treatment choices.
- Integrated self management support works best. Collaborative self management support—underpinned by personalised care plans and provided as part of routine healthcare—has the potential to reach more people with better results than externally provided, lay-led, self management courses. Although the latter can have beneficial effects too.
However, she notes that none of these findings is new, and questions why implementation is not further forward.
Angela Coulter works in the Health Services Research Unit at the University of Oxford and for the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation. She is a trustee of National Voices and a member of The BMJ’s Patient Panel.