Patient Education Practice Guidelines for Health Care Professionals

The Patient Education Practice Guidelines for Health Care Professionals was developed by the Health Care Education Association to provide concise direction for health care professionals. Patient education is defined as “A process of assisting consumers of health care to learn how to incorporate health related behaviors (knowledge, skill, attitude) into everyday life with the purpose of achieving the goal of optimal health” (Bastable, 2017, p. 542).  Over 10,000 articles and resources were reviewed to identify evidence-based practice for patient education.

Four Components of the Patient Education Process

The guidelines are based on the four components of the patient education process: assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation (APIE) (Bastable, 2017). Each component is essential for effective patient education. No component can be skipped or receive lesser attention.  In this guideline, specific concise instructions are provided on how to address each of the components. 

In the APIE process, individualizing education can only be accomplished through assessment of the patient (e.g., knowledge, goals, language). The education plan focuses on the patient’s priorities in addition to needs identified by the health care professional.  Implementation uses key learning strategies and can be adapted based on the patient’s response. In the evaluation component, the patient’s knowledge/behavior and the health professional’s ability to teach are evaluated.

Overarching Elements

From the literature review, several overarching elements emerged which impact the APIE process. Effective patient education focuses on the concepts of “patient-centered” and “patient engagement.” Additionally, effective strategies include plain language and focusing on behaviors and actions, not just knowledge.

Best practice combines all of these elements. Ideally, education is an interactive process focusing on the desired patient behavior and patient’s stated priorities to achieve health goals. Use the guidelines to lead or direct you through the patient education process. 

The term “patient education” is defined in this context to be a broad classification that includes not only patients, but also consumers, family, friends, neighbors, guardians, significant other/partner or anyone else designated to meet care needs.

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Guidelines Workgroup

  • Carolyn Cutilli, PhD, RN, NPD-BC, Co-chair, Penn Medicine; American International College
  • Sarah Christensen, MA, Co-chair, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Marianne Aloupis, MS, RD, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania 
  • Marina Arvanitis, MD, Northwestern Medicine, Internal Medicine
  • Colleen Chancler, PT, MHS, PhD, Pennsylvania Physical Therapy Association
  • Sandra Cornett, PhD, RN, The Ohio State University
  • Judi Dunn, DNP, RN, University of Kentucky Healthcare
  • Joseph Favatella, PharmD, MBA, BCPS, CSP, Penn Medicine
  • Anne Findeis, MS, RN, Northwestern Memorial Hospital (retired)
  • Janette Helm, MA, RN, MCHES, Indiana State Medical Association 
  • Danielle Housman, MS, OTR/L, OTD, CLT, Craig. H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Erica Lake, MLS, AHIP, University of Utah
  • Fran London, MS, RN, Author, No Time to Teach
  • Ann Longo, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, Longorosa Healthcare Consulting
  • Sharon McHugh, MSN, RN, Northwestern Memorial Healthcare
  • Kristin Mosman, MS, SLP-CCC, Utah State University
  • Diane Moyer, MS, RN, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
  • Michele Mulhall, PT, PhD, Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital 
  • Garry Nichols, Patient Advisor
  • Magdalyn Patyk, MS, RN, BC, Northwestern Memorial Hospital 
  • Jessica Retzlaff, MS, The Rees Group
  • Jackie A. Smith, PhD, University of Utah College of Nursing (Emerita)
  • Jan Stucki, MA, MPH, AMWA, Intermountain Health
  • Lindsay Thrall, MOT, OTR/L, The University of Vermont Health Network
  • Lauren Tormey, MD, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
  • Ruti Volk, MSI, AHIP, Michigan Medicine
  • Barbara Wagner, PT, DPT, MHA, University of Scranton
  • Michael Wolf, PhD, MPH, Northwestern University

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