Editorials

Partnership with patients

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7125.85 (Published 10 January 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:85

Patients want more than simply information; they need involvement too

  1. Tessa Richards, Associate editor
  1. BMJ

    Being confronted with a patient who has done a literature search, scanned the internet, made a provisional diagnosis, and knows what he or she wants from the health service is no longer a hypothetical scenario. People are becoming better informed about health, and a groundswell of support and government backing exists for the campaign being waged by consumer lobbies, patient organisations, and others for more and better information on health and for greater involvement in decision making.1

    Much of the information currently available to patients is inaccurate or misleading and gives little indication of outcome and treatment options. The need to improve such material and take more account of patients' information needs was emphasised at a recent meeting, organised by the King's Fund under its “Promoting patient choice” programme.* It is also the focus of a new government funded Centre for Health Information Quality, which will coordinate and support the development of materials for patients.*

    But what constitutes quality? “Patients want honest, unbiased, up to date information about their illness, its likely outcome, and the …

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