Patient education

Patients and caregivers can benefit from education about rehabilitation after an aSAH. Also, they will need instruction about care at home. Signs and symptoms of impending rebleeding such as headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, photophobia and changes in LOC need to be discussed and written in a handout.

Activities that can be carried out safely at home need to be obtained from the physician.

The process of patient education

There are several steps involved in effectively teaching what the patient and family need to know and coaching them about how to achieve their goals. The involvement of patients and family members in the process of patient education is promoted within the Joint Commission’s standard for patient education. According to the Joint Commission:

Developing goals and objectives

To develop an active learning program the patient and/or family should be involved in developing objectives. Blooms taxonomy is often used to develop these objectives. (For more information visit for their patient education and coaching course).

The learning objectives should reflect the time health risks will be addressed, care given and by whom.

Once these objectives are agreed upon, a plan of instruction can be developed.

It is important to not overwhelm patients and caregivers with many questions. General, open ended questions can be asked with opportunity to delve deeper into the answers.

The following are suggestions:

    1. What concerns do you have?
    2. How do you prefer to receive information: hearing someone explain information, reading information or hands on learning?

Health care professions are understandably enthusiastic when individuals meet the goals of a health improvement plan, but we need to be sure that the plan reflects the patient's goals. As the health care teacher, before writing learning objectives with the patient and family, it is also important to assess family systems and adherence issues that might interfere with accomplishing preventative measures.

The patient and/or family are likely well placed to identify barriers and risks to meeting goals. These can be cultural, religious or financial. For example, the patient may need someone with him or her at home all the time after discharge for a period of time. Is it possible for the family to make those types of arrangements?

Assessing learning styles

It is important also to determine the patient’s and family member’s learning style for effective teaching. One of the simplest yet effective tool is the VAK (Visual, auditory, kinesthetic) learning style from the field of neurolinguistics. In this tool individuals are visual, auditory or kinesthetic learners. Visual learners learn by reading, watching, or writing. Auditory learners listen, ask for information, like to discuss situations, talk on the phone. Kinesthetic learners, learn through touching, demonstrating, handling objects. Most individuals have a primary style in which they learn the best.

Here is a website where you can access a VAK test to determine your style.

Reading levels of patient materials

The American Medical Association (AMA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend patient education materials not be higher than a sixth-grade reading level (Weiss et al., 2005). Several studies have shown patient education materials used in health care organizations and online are written at a much higher level, presenting a deterrent to the comprehension of important information. Most word processing systems have a readability analysis in their system. The most popular and well-validated is the Flesch-Kincaid formula to analyze grade level readability. (When using MS Word the spell check must be completed first than the statistics on the area being typed, including the Flesch-Kincaid reading level, will come up).

Instruction evaluation

The patient and/or family member should evaluate the instruction that was given. The evaluation questions about the quality of instruction, relevance and presentation can be asked verbally.