A recent post about the rise of the informed patient attracted some insightful comments. Dr J got me thinking about knowledge, responsibility and a few things in between.
Patient education is a good thing and we need more of it. The EMEA roadmap for 2010 promises more access to accredited medical information. Ideally this will help override the reams of flimsy information that, as Dr J points out, are in abundance.
I think the EMEA have their work cut out for them. How much information do people need for a start? Is it OK to broadcast an advert simply telling people to be more active, or do we need a clearer link to the real consequences of obesity? And what if we overload people with information – will we scare them into doing the wrong thing? Will they just stop listening?
What really alarmed me was Dr J’s comment that, even when patients know their onions, they often balk at decision time. Perhaps we know enough, but we’d still like to blame someone else if things don’t work out. Or is it the other way round – are we being urged to take more responsibility for our treatment, but don’t have enough insight to make decisions?
There’s a great take-out from this: We must be on the ball if our minds are boggling with the same question that patients’ are. What we all want to know is: how do we embrace patient empowerment without compromising medical integrity?
Looking forward to your thoughts on this one.