Educating patients: Videos help convey facts

October 21, 2005

Ann Arbor, Mich. — Showing patients an educational video about their condition teaches them the facts about their disease even better than when their doctor tells them about the condition, according to a recent study from researchers at the University of Michigan Health System.

Ann Arbor, Mich. - Showing patients an educational video about their condition teaches them the facts about their disease even better than when their doctor tells them about the condition, according to a recent study from researchers at the University of Michigan Health System.

"The study confirmed the informational value of videotape-based educational materials. In fact, patients learned many more facts from the videotape - which was created with information from physicians - than they learned from their doctors during a clinic visit," explains Jeffrey S. Orringer, M.D., lead author of the study, which was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

"This tells us that the videotape is an excellent educational tool, but that it can't replace a positive patient-doctor relationship," he adds.

Consistent message

Part of the reason the videotape was such a good educational tool is that the message was consistent, Dr. Orringer tells Dermatology Times. Patients could also watch the tape over and over again, and the unchanging information was reinforced each time for the viewer.

"In contrast, an encounter with another human being is, by its nature, less consistent," he says.

At the same time, the consistency of the videotape helps to explain why it isn't as helpful at reducing a patient's distress and anxiety levels.

"A doctor can tailor information to the specific concerns and fears a patient is encountering," Dr. Orringer explains.

The study

The study was conducted with 217 patients divided into two different groups. One group watched the educational videotape before an initial consultation visit at the University of Michigan Multidisciplinary Melanoma Clinic, and answered questionnaires assessing their knowledge about melanoma and their anxiety levels. These patients were instructed to complete one set of questionnaires before watching the 11-minute video, developed by physicians at the university, and another one after viewing the video but before their melanoma clinic visit.

The other group of patients received the same questionnaires but no videotape, and they were told to fill out one set of the forms before the melanoma clinic consultation visit. After their appointment but before they left the clinic, they were asked to fill out a second set of questionnaires. The changes in their knowledge about melanoma and anxiety levels were attributed to the usual standard care and were used as a basis for comparison with the first group. (This second group also received the videotape after they completed their part in the study.)

The study showed that in the videotape group, knowledge about melanoma increased by an average score of 8.8 after watching the tape, compared with a 5.1 increase among the group that was measured after the clinic visit.

According to Dr. Orringer, anxiety and emotional distress scores showed decreases of 3.2 and 0.56 using two different measurement instruments in the videotape group. The decreases were much greater in the group measured after a clinic visit: 10.2 and 1.4, respectively, which was about three times the decrease of the videotape group's anxiety and distress scores.