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Editor's Note
July 22, 2013

Patient Education: One Size Does Not Fit All

JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(14):1376. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.7402

There is tremendous enthusiasm for web-based educational tools, particularly as more patients seek health information through the Internet. However, as Kakkar and Jacobson describe in this issue, there is a gap between the interest in web-based educational tools and real-world usage—only 6% of patients in the study viewed the online material. Their results are consistent with other studies showing low viewing rates of web-based interventions. Therefore, although web-based tools are an important avenue for patient education, this study highlights that even well-designed tools will not be effective if they are not used.

Patients have different educational needs and preferences. For example, some patients may not have access to or may not wish to use web-based educational tools. Thus, rather than offering all patients access to the same educational materials, physicians will likely need a menu of different resources using multiple modalities to most effectively educate and communicate with their patients. Assessing patient information needs, collecting usage data, and determining methods to match the right tools to the right patient should be part of future research to assist clinicians in providing the best education for their patients.

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Article Information

Published Online: June 3, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.7402