Making patient centered care a reality: a survey of patient educational programs in Italian Cancer Research and Care Institutes
Cipolat Mis, C.
De Paoli, P.
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Abstract Background Educational intervention represents an essential element of care for cancer patients; while several single institutions develop their own patient education (PE) programs on cancer, little information is available on the effective existence of PE programs at the level of research and care institutes. In Italy such institutes - Istituti di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico - are appointed by the Ministry of Health, and 11 (Cancer Research & Care Istitute-CRCI) of the 48 are specific for cancer on the basis of specific requirements regarding cancer care, research and education. Therefore, they represent an ideal and homogeneous model through which to investigate PE policies and activities throughout the country. The objective of this study was to assess PE activities in Italian CRCI. Methods We carried out a survey on PE strategies and services through a questionnaire. Four key points were investigated: a) PE as a cancer care priority, b) activities that are routinely part of PE, c) real involvement of the patients, and d) involvement of healthcare workers in PE activities. Results Most CRCI (85 %) completed the survey. All reported having ongoing PE activities, and 4 of the 11 considered PE an institutional activity. More than 90 % of CRCI organize classes and prepare PE handouts, while other PE activities (e.g., Cancer Information Services, mutual support groups) are less frequently part of institutional PE programs. Patients are frequently involved in the organization and preparation of educational activities on the basis of their own needs. Various PE activities are carried out for caregivers in 8 (73 %) out of 11 institutes. Finally, health care workers have an active role in the organization of PE programs, although nurses take part in these activities in only half of CRCI and pharmacists are seldom included. Conclusions The information arising from our research constitutes a necessary framework to identify areas of development and to design new strategies and standards to disseminate the culture of PE. This may ultimately help and stimulate the establishment of institutional integrated PE programs, including policies and interventions that can benefit a significant proportion of cancer patients.