45 Minutes of Education Can Help Better Manage Chronic Disease
Node Smith, ND
A recent article validates the increase in patient outcomes with longer visits that concentrate on educating patients about their conditions.1 Forty-five (45) minute office visits intended to educate patients on their chronic medical conditions, and to help them gather resources and understand how they could take more control of their treatment, was shown to have incredible benefits. This is a study that was conducted by the American Osteopathic Association. Though there is a lack of acknowledgement that other healthcare practitioners have already been doing this for a long time, it is additional validation that a naturopathic medical model works, even from a conventional perspective.
Validation that a naturopathic medical model works
It’s this patient education that this current study looked at specifically. They looked at 47 patients who were diagnosed with a chronic illness – hypertension, COPD, or diabetes – who were assigned with a second-year medical student for a 45-minute visit after seeing their physician. This one-on-one visit significantly improved attitudes and abilities in self-managing their care. Subsequent follow-up appointments with the students at 3 weeks and 3 months also demonstrated improvements in willingness and capacity to manage their own care.
“Patients reported a greater understanding of their chronic disease and feeling better equipped to manage their health,” said Alexis Stoner, PhD, director of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine and lead author of this study. “This is encouraging because these diseases typically require patients to take on a lot of responsibility in their care, often through changes in lifestyle.”
The conventional medical system catching up – – – Slowly
This study is a great validation for the need to spend more time with individuals who have complex chronic diseases, as well as conditions that necessitate drastic changes in lifestyle in order to manage adequately. However, the study points out that the current conventional system is not prepared to offer this type of care any time soon, pointing out that physicians don’t have access to second-year medical students who can allocate this time for patient care.
Naturopathic physicians already doing this and have been seeing incredible results
Naturopathic physicians are already doing this and have been seeing the results of increased patient education and support navigating the medical system for generations. This study validates a model that is currently in use, and supports increased access to this type of care.
- Stoner AM, Cannon M, Shan L, Plewa D, Caudell C, Johnson L. The Other 45: Improving Patients’ Chronic Disease Self-Management and Medical Students’ Communication Skills. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2018;118(11):703-712.
Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.