Simultaneous with the raise of welfare and the ageing population, the incidence of chronic diseases has grown dramatically in all Western European countries. This tendency raises challenges in the economic, health and social fields of European countries.
Chronic disease puts pressure on the day-to-day life of the patient. Patients with a chronic disease need sufficient knowledge about their condition, treatment, and preventive measures in order to adopt the most adequate health promoting behaviours. In this context, patient education towards sustainable self-management has become an integral part of health care. Patient education and follow-up in a comprehensive, structural way, helps patients to (1) integrate the disease in day to day life, (2) find solutions for difficulties they encounter in day to day disease management, and (3) adopt and persevere the most adequate health promoting behaviours.
The provision of high quality patient education in managing chronic diseases has remained firmly on the health care agenda. Investments in preventive health care measures, as opposed to curative health care has become the preferred strategy of both politicians and health care workers.
Two bottlenecks occur in the current debate on education for chronic diseases. On the one hand, education is often limited to ‘informing’ rather than on self-management of the patients. Innovative systems of supportive, evidence-based educational interventions are created to provide better and more efficient self-management education services. Lack of social capacity, knowledge and awareness about the potential of these tools may explain why innovations - such as multimedia application - are not yet widely spread among health educators. On the other hand, there is a lack of evidence based research on the patient’s preference about the different formats of education (such as face-to-face meetings, follow-up by peers, use of m-tools, …). Research in this domain would be an added value for the development, implementation and further generation of new educational materials.
Leuven University College has built experience in both domains. Concerning the first issue, a self-management module for diabetes type 2 patients is developed. The tool is an online application, accessible for patients as well as for his health care workers. Concerning the second issue, a qualitative research has been carried out. A quantitative research, in cooperation with the University Hospital of Leuven, is in progress.
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