Educational Materials for Patients

Many patients find it helpful to receive patient education materials at physician visits to refer to when they get home. These materials can include information about a new diagnosis, prescription information (what are they taking, why, and frequency/dosage), future reading about their condition or even information they can use to help explain medical information to a child.

Patient education materials take many forms—consider here how you yourself retain information best. It could be helpful to provide written information, visual information, or even videos or comics for your patients to take home with them. The good news is that high-quality health information can come in all shapes and sizes. There is something for almost everyone!

You might simply print off a handout from a library resource like UpToDate, or a reliable web resource like MedlinePlus or the Mayo Clinic. To access UptoDate’s entire patient education collection, make sure you’re logged in or accessing from the Dartmouth Biomedical Libraries’ homepage.

UpToDate allows you to:

  • Browse by category (everything from Allergies & Asthma to Women’s health issues)
    • To explore the contents of any category, click on the header, i.e. “Surgery”
    • A great example of the information available here is the handout “Questions to ask if you are having surgery or a procedure (The Basics)”
  • You’ll also find patient education material embedded within the content for many other topic pages on UpToDate—before you give this to a patient, make sure you’re selecting the “Information for Patients” tab as it will be written in the plainest language
  • Search specifically for patient education articles in UpToDate by searching on “patient info” and your patient’s keyword of interest

Explore MedlinePlus, which contains 1000+ topic pages on diseases, illness, health conditions and wellness issues written in plain language:

  • Search for a specific condition or topic—topic pages make for excellent reading once your patient gets home as they will find way to explore the basics of a condition, diagnosis and tests, therapies, ongoing research (including links to currently recruiting clinical trials), and advocacy information
  • Provide videos and even games to help patients understand a procedure or body system

Mayo Clinic provides great online patient information:

  • Show a patient how to search by disease or condition, symptoms, or provide handouts about different tests and procedures they will be undergoing

The Matthews-Fuller Health Sciences Library on the 5th floor of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center has a collection of print books, videos, workbooks, even cookbooks, that patients and their family members are able to check out.

Your patients might even enjoy reading about health conditions in comic or graphic novel form—this popular medium, called graphic medicine, has plenty to offer interested readers of every age. (and let a librarian know if you want us to purchase one of these titles for our collection!).

This post was written by Elaina Vitale, a Research and Education Librarian for the Biomedical Libraries.

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