Patient education. PRINCIPLES: SIMPLICITY AND REINFORCEMENT.
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Simplicitymeans that educational messages must be delivered so the patient can readily understand them. Health education can include extremely intricate information (e.g. triple screening, cardiac catheterisation). Topics such as these can be daunting to teach and difficult for an inexperienced patient to learn. The concept of simplicity, then, tells us to start by assessing what the patient knows before the teaching session. Never assume that the patient needs to be taught everything about a topic, it is possible that someone close to him has experienced this in the past and he knows a great deal already. In addition, overteaching must be avoided. Although it is tempting to teach the patient everything we know about a given topic, in the name of simplicity we need to avoid doing that. Realistically, it is far better to choose three or four essential concepts about a topic and teach those. Using the principle of simplicity to guide a teaching session, we should use reinforcement in every patient education encounter. When a concept is heard multiple times during a teaching session, it is more likely that the information will be retained.