Pediatricians spend 35% to 41% of their direct patient care time on patient education and counselling. However, studies indicate that teaching alone generally is ineffective. It is logical that the patient or parent must have an understanding of the basics of the regimen in order to follow the pediatrician's advice. However, teaching, even when supplemented by pamphlets or audiovisual programs, generally is not sufficient to bring about behavior change. A "stepped approac" to patient education is recommended. This approach consists of three steps: (1) using interpersonal skills to establish rapport and provide reassurance; (2) teaching about the illness, regimen, and other health matters; and (3) identifying and overcoming obstacles to behavior change. Step 3 is not necessary if steps l and 2 have been successful in achieving patient adherence to physician recommendations. By questioning the patient or parent at the follow-up visit, the pediatrician can identify the obstacles that are interfering with acceptance of his or her advice—this process is the "behavioral diagnosis." Once the cause of the problem has been determined, selection of the appropriate solution is usually straight-forward. This three-step approach to patient education can be more effective and less time-consuming than traditional approaches.
- Copyright © 1984 by the American Academy of Pediatrics