Patient education Web site continues to grow
Basic articles written for easy reading; new “Informed Choice” modules target advanced readers
By Nancy Fehr
Under the leadership of J. Sybil Biermann, MD, chair of the AAOS Patient Education Committee, the AAOS patient education Web site, Your Orthopaedic Connection is fast becoming the leading source for orthopaedic patient education content.
Over the past year, an extensive process to review and update all of the content on the site has been taking shape, utilizing the help of qualified and interested AAOS physician volunteers. A project team of more than 50 orthopaedist authors and peer reviewers has already begun to update, revise and add content to Your Orthopaedic Connection. Eventually, all content on the Web site will be reviewed and updated on a three-year cycle.
“Currency of up-to-date medical information is especially important on the Web,” said Dr. Biermann. “In early 2004, we made the decision to move to a physician-authored model, with increased incorporation of relevant visual images to accompany text in the patient education articles.”
The growing list of new and updated patient education modules that have already been completed for Your Orthopaedic Connection includes many “basic articles”—written to the eighth-grade reading level for easy comprehension—as well as a few of the new in-depth format called “informed choice” modules.
Basic, easy-to-read information
All basic modules follow the same general format. They begin with a description of the condition, then discuss risk factors and prevention. A discussion of symptoms is followed by descriptions of nonsurgical treatment options. Surgical treatment options are also covered, as is information about research on the horizon and what’s new.
Links to additional information, as well as to author and medical reviewer information, are provided at the end of each article. An online feedback form enables patients to respond and make comments on the materials.
Informed choice modules
“Informed choice modules are highly referenced with comprehensive information designed to help a patient ‘gather all of the facts’ to make an informed, shared decision with their physician at certain points during treatment,” Dr. Biermann explained.
For example, the informed choice module on “Rotator Cuff Repair: Surgery versus Rehabilitation” helps a patient weigh the pros and cons of having surgery versus using physical therapy to treat a torn rotator cuff.
“Informed choice modules contribute to the vision for a ‘patient-centered culture,’ in which an informed patient works together with his or her doctor to help decide what is best in their particular case,” Dr. Biermann said.
Informed choice modules have a slightly different general format. Each begins with a discussion of anatomy and pathophysiology, followed by a description of the natural history of the condition. Surgical and non-surgical treatment options are outlined, and the benefits and limits of nonopertive treatment are discussed. Surgical intervention and considerations, a description of the operative procedure, and potential operative complications are covered, as well as rehabilitation/convalescence.
Revisit the site
If it’s been some time since you’ve visited Your Orthopaedic Connection, it’s time to go back and take a second look at the revised and updated articles. Articles are constantly being revised, updated or added. Recently, the entire contents of the section on “Children” was reviewed and updated, with the cooperation of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America. Other new articles include information on Giant Cell Tumors and Spinal Surgery for Fractured Vertebrae.
New & updated articles