Health Care :: Coaching patients over 65 can help them to take an active role in health care consultations

Older patients (+65 years) who are given pre-visit information booklets or a pre-visit coaching session ask more questions when they see a doctor than untrained patients.

The trained patients also get more information from their doctors per question asked, and were also in a position to supply the doctor with more information. This added confidence did not, however, cause an increase in the length of appointments.

These conclusions were drawn from a systematic review that found only three studies looking at different ways of helping older patients get more out of visits to their doctor. This contrasts with a large number of studies that aim to encourage involvement between younger patients and their doctors.

“The low number of studies is interesting in itself, as it indicates that there has been relatively little effort given to finding ways of helping older people make the most of appointments with their doctor,” says Lead Review Author Raymond Wetzels, who works in the Centre for Quality of Care Research, in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

“It is important to respect patients’ autonomy while at the same time helping to stimulate their active participation in their healthcare, and face-to-face coaching sessions, with or without additional written materials, may be the way forward,” says Wetzels.

The Review Authors realize that it would not be practical to supply this coaching to the whole population, but feel that there is a case for identifying specific groups of patients who could benefit most from enhanced involvement in decision-making. In particular, this group could include those who want to be involved, but lack skills or confidence.

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