By Nancy Scott
There are few things more important for dialysis patients than comprehensive, relevant and clear education about their condition, care and treatment choices. However, as a study in the May 2011 Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology highlighted, many patients suffer from severely inadequate health literacy.
The sheer amount of information available to patients can be intimidating and can lead to discouraged and poorly educated patients. It is often hard to digest it all and even harder to understand what is relevant to your individual circumstance. But when managing a chronic condition and striving to live a full life, understanding what will produce optimal health outcomes is critical.
As an in-center hemodialysis patient for more than seven years, I understand the often daunting task faced by many of my peers. Taking and comprehending all the information thrown at you can be incredibly intimidating. However, it can and should be done. Facilities have to make patient education a priority in order to lift the community as a whole.
Early on, I learned the importance of being an educated and active voice in my care and have devoted much of my life to educating others in the community and the broader public. Serving as the President of Dialysis Patient Citizens (DPC) and the Chair of DPC’s Education Committee, I spend much of my time developing new educational materials geared at patients and attempting to understand how the very broad patient community responds to educational information.
I hope that as the larger dialysis community refocuses its efforts on patient education, it will consider the following tips from the patient point-of-view on how facilities can best reach out to dialysis patients.