Healthcare Business News

Well-informed patients take more active role, survey finds

By Maureen McKinney
Posted: September 10, 2012 - 2:00 pm ET

Low-income patients who are well-informed about their conditions and treatment options are more likely to take an active role in managing their own care, according to survey results released Monday by the Blue Shield of California Foundation (PDF).

Using data gathered during phone interviews with more than 1,000 Californians, researchers found that patients who felt informed were much more engaged. Among patients who reported feeling less involved and less informed about their care, for instance, only 33% said they were comfortable asking their provider questions. But that number jumped to 67% among patients who reported being informed about their health.

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Among respondents who reported being highly informed about their health, more than 60% said they always understood treatment plans and providers' advice, compared with 18% of less informed patients.

And only 44% said their doctor always explains things to them in ways they can understand.

“Most of what ultimately makes a person healthy happens away from the doctor's office,” said Peter Long, president and CEO of the Blue Shield of California Foundation, in a news release. “The more we can engage patients to be partners in their own care, the healthier they—and our entire healthcare system—will be.”

The study comes just after a Sept. 6 report from the Institute of Medicine, whose recommendations for health system transformation included a focus on patient engagement.

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