The patient educated patient: A health-care asset or problem?

Abstract

Patient education is one of the four main hospital tasks in Norway. The intention is to reduce the impact of chronic diseases, and the rationality is obvious: knowledge of one's own disease should lead to a positive health outcome. But patient knowledge can challenge the health worker, for when it comes to taking care of own disease, interaction with health workers is important. This paper investigates the role and value of knowledge in the interaction. The investigation is done through analysis of stories in an inductive process informed by the connection between knowledge and power and systemization of the lifeworld. Five different relationships are identified: the classic relationship, the team relationship, the battle relationship, the inverted relationship and the powerless relationship. All five relationships are considered as double meetings: one meeting in the system between a patient and a health worker, and one meeting in the lifeworld between two human beings. The professional meeting is found to be subordinate to the human one.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Prosumer: a consumer who is involved in design and manufacture, so the product is made to individual specification. The term is introduced by Alvin Toffler.

  2. 2.

    This means that it is not necessary to report the study to the Privacy Ombudsman (Norwegian Social Science Data Services).

  3. 3.

    Endochrinologists are doctors who treat hormonal diseases, which means that they are the specialists with the most knowledge about Arne's illness.

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Acknowledgements

First of all, a debt of gratitude goes to all the informants who have generously shared their lifeworld and stories with me. Thanks are also owed to those who have read the text and passed on their comments – most of all as a lifeworldly gift. Finally, I would like to thank the Central Norway Regional Health Authority that has financed the project. Because, it is the lifeworld that comes first, and the system afterwards…

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*Current address: Patient Education Resource Centre, Volda Hospital, Volda 6100, Norway.

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Stokken, R. The patient educated patient: A health-care asset or problem?. Soc Theory Health 7, 81–99 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1057/sth.2008.22

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Keywords

  • patient education
  • empowerment
  • Habermas
  • power
  • knowledge