Learning as a patient What and how individuals want to learn when preparing for surgery, and the potential use of serious games in their education
Abstract: Introduction: Surgical patients need knowledge to participate in their own care and to engage in self-care behaviour in the perioperative period which is important for their recovery. Patient education facilitates such knowledge acquisition and several methods can be used to facilitate it, for example, face-to-face education and brochures or using information technology such as website or computer games. Healthcare professionals have been slow to seize the possibilities that information technology has to offer within the field, including the use of serious games. To optimise patient education, the information is needed on the patients’ needs and preferences and what they think about the idea of using a serious game to learn about self-care.Aim: The overall aims of this thesis were to describe the knowledge expectations of surgical patients, to describe how surgical patients want to learn, and to explore the potential use of serious games in patient education.Methods: This thesis includes four studies that used both quantitative and qualitative data to describe aspects of patient learning in relation to surgery. Study I has a prospective and comparative design with survey data collected before surgery and before hospital discharge from 290 patients with osteoarthritis undergoing knee arthroplasty. Data was collected on fulfilment of knowledge expectations and related factors. Study II is a cross-‐sectional study in 104 patients with heart failure who had been scheduled for cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) device implantation. Data was collected on knowledge expectations and related factors. In Study III the perceptions of 13 surgical patients towards novel and traditional methods to learn about post-operative pain management are explored in a qualitative interview study using content analysis. Study IV describes the development and evaluation of a serious game to learn about pain management with the participation of 20 persons recruited from the public. The game was developed by an interdisciplinary team following a structured approach. Data on the efficacy and usability of the game was collected in one session with questionnaires, observations and interviews.Results: Participants reported high knowledge expectations. Knowledge expectations were highest within the bio-physiological knowledge dimension on disease, treatment and complications and the functional dimension on how daily activities are affected, both of which include items on self-care. Most participants wanted to know about the possible complications related to the surgery procedure. In none of the knowledge dimensions the expectations of participants were fulfilled. Participants received most knowledge on the physical and functional issues and received least on the financial and social aspects of their illness. The main predictor of fulfilment of knowledge expectations was having access to knowledge in the hospital from doctors and nurses. Trust in the information source and own motivation to learn shaped how the participants thought about different learning methods. Although the participants were open to using novel learning methods such as websites or games they were also doubtful about their use and called for advice by healthcare professionals. To develop a serious game with the goal to learn about pain management, theories of self-care and adult learning, evidence on the educational needs of patients about pain management and principles of gamification were found useful. The game character is a surgical patient just discharged home from hospital who needs to attend to daily activities while simultaneously managing post-operative pain with different strategies. Participants who evaluated a first version of the serious game improved their knowledge and described usability of the game as high. They were positive towards this new learning method and found it suitable for learning about pain management after surgery in spite of some technical obstacles.Conclusions: Surgical patients have high knowledge expectations about all aspects of their upcoming surgery and although they prefer direct communication with healthcare professionals as a source for knowledge they might be open to try using more novel methods such as games. Preliminary short-‐term results demonstrate that a serious game can help individuals to learn about pain management, and has the potential to improve knowledge. A careful introduction, recommendation, and support from healthcare professionals is needed for implementation of such a novel method in patient education.
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