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Computers Can Teach Patients About Screening for Cancer

The medical body has always been receptive enough to hold on to technological advancements belived to revolutionise health care delivery. One such has been the adoption of computers to improve the quality and effectiveness of care in a cost effective way//.

It has now been proved with authencity that even pateints with minimal education and no computer skills can be successfully educated about health topics using computers that can have valuable implications on the treatment outcome.

Patients who used a computer to learn about a screening test for colon cancer were just as knowledgeable about the topic as patients who were educated by a nurse. In addition, the two groups had equal success rates completing the screening test. With physicians frequently reporting inadequate time with patients, computer-assisted instruction can turn out to be a timesaving and cost-effective patient education solution.

The research also suggests the potential for computer-assisted instruction to help increase screening rates for colon cancer where patient confusion about the screening process and physicians’ lack of time to educate their patients pose significant barriers to early identification.

The research involved 194 patients over age 50 whose doctors recommended a fecal occult blood test, which is completed at home. Participants were randomly assigned to learn about the test from a nurse or from an educational computer program. Patients in the computer group used a desktop computer with a mouse to view a multi-media presentation that included graphics and video and audio clips and patients in the other group met privately with a nurse, who taught them how to complete the screening test. The two groups were analyzed regarding their knowledge and preparedness of the test. The two groups’ knowledge scores were similar, with a trend toward increased knowledge in the computer group: 56 percent versus 41 percent. Rates for successfully completing the kits were 62 percent in the computer group and 63 percent in the nurse-education group.

Computer-assisted instruction offers the potential to overcome knowledge barriers and improve screening rates. All the more, it can be used for a wide variety of patient education topics, including diabetes education, smoking cessation, weight loss, and chronic disease management.

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