Health education resources empower the public to have relevant information about their health so that they adapt to a healthy relationship and abstain from destructive behavior. People are generally educated about their physical, emotional and social health, and indeed all aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Individuals, groups and communities are empowered with the requisite information to promote and maintain a healthy lifestyle. According to the World Health Organization, health education is a set of policies designed to communicate information and skills that empower people to make solid decisions about their health in relation to their lifestyles.
Health education resources evolved as a technique aimed at preventing harmful and contagious diseases that were for the cause of high mortality rate. Health practitioners discovered that the resources were also a powerful method of reducing deaths and costs for treating common diseases. The responsibilities of a health educator include assessing the needs for health education, planning health education programs and strategies, lobbying the public and communicating policies to them, implementation of the programs, conducting research and evaluation of the programs, and serving as the responsible person for health education.
An informed health product consumer is the primary agent of the prevention of diseases. It has come to the attention of medical practitioners that people rarely read the available health resources, because they are too lengthy and sometimes use complicated medical words. This paper reviews the health education resources available on gout medication. Gout is a form of arthritis that is extremely painful and is characterized by swelling of joints and feet. It is a chronic long-term medical condition, but unfortunately most believe that gout is not the enough serious condition to warrant drastic changes in lifestyle.
Discussion of Qualitative Criteria
There is no permanent cure for gout; people who suffer from the disease undergo a long medication process that requires management of medication and lifestyle. They undergo a new experience that requires them to make many decisions as well as to digest much information on the condition and its management. Most of them fail to manage the medication due to widespread pre-conceived habits and beliefs. This has been blamed on poor health information, particularly on managing gout through exercise and dieting. The myth that gout develops as a result of self-infliction has prevented people with gout from seeking medical assistance.
The language and messages used in the resource are particularly inconsistent. The language used to define gout and related conditions uses complex terms that are difficult for lay people to understand, especially when they have just been newly diagnosed with the disease. The descriptions about the way the body functions are quite intricate and sometimes use terms that are only known to qualified health experts. Retention of information is very minimal and so is the exposure of the new knowledge or information. The resources begin with information on diet, which is trivial when compared to vital information on medication. People therefore tend to process the information on diet leaving out information on medication in the process. Mixing information and instructions on the same health resource dilutes the effectiveness of the health resource. Information aims at making the reader grasp general information about gout, its symptoms and management. Instructions, on the other hand, contain explanations on management and prevention of gout. Most people skim through information but take time to thoroughly read instructions. When the two are combined in the same resource, people will skim through the information that the health educator intended to communicate and consequently lose the intended impact.
The general public has never understood that gout is a chronic disease that persists for a very long time. This is due to the fact that they only witness the effects of gout when a patient suffers from gout attacks, which are very minimal. They therefore do not appreciate that management of gout requires long-term consumption of medication. Most patients stop using medication when their condition improves. Due to ignorance, patients suffer from bouts of gut attacks throughout their life. Effective health education resources must focus on educating the public on the distinction between gout and gout attacks so that they are not confused.
Discussion of Quantitative Criteria
The length of time that gout patients take before seeking medication determines the extent of harm caused by the disease. About 40% of the population waits for three months before consulting a health practitioner upon being infected. Irreversible damage of the joints occurs when a patient takes long before seeking medication. It may also result in cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney infections. Health literacy policies fail to consider available time and resources that the patient has to access such material and the stress that the patient may be undergoing due to the shock of a new diagnosis. They also fail to take into consideration a person’s beliefs, values, attitudes and concerns.
Health education policies on gout medication and management are often affected by the funding given to the health educators by the government. Communication skills of health educators may be poor, and they may fail to create a rapport with the patient creating obstacles in dissemination of the information. Health education consumers are given information in different forms. These include instructions, brochures, letters, publications, labels and websites. The form of communication that the patient is given greatly impacts his/her response to the information. A patient given information in form of a brochure is more likely to read it, while a patient given information through a publication is more likely to skim through it.
It is estimated that less than 20% of people diagnosed with gout change their lifestyles after being diagnosed. This can be mitigated by the provision of information regarding destruction of joints and follow-ups on management of medication. Older people, poor people and minority groups only get access to about 15% of the health education resources available for gout management. Older people have visual and hearing programs and may find it hard to listen or read the resources unless they have a responsible caregiver. Poor people and minority groups may not have enough money to seek medication or come into contact with a health educator. Health education resources tend to be more available in urban areas making it difficult for people in rural and remote areas to access them.
Discussion of Technical and Design Characteristics
Inclusion of pictures of people suffering from gout tends to scare and intimidate patients thus preventing them from seeking treatment. Health education resources on gout contain pictures of people with abscesses and tophi. The pictures are disgusting, and people do not giveÂ resources a second look after seeing those pictures of people suffering gout. A person with tophi that has not progressed to abscesses may empathize with the people in the pictures, but newly infected patients become scared and withdraw from seeking medication.
Placement of pictures close to texts and audio recordings increases the attention paid to resources by health consumers. Pictures or graphical images showing the relationship between a concept and facts increases the understanding of resource arterials on gout. Pictures are increasingly beneficial to patients with low literacy levels and who can hardly read written texts. Positive pictures (pictures that do not depict negative things such as abscesses) motivate patients to stick to medication and adhere to instructions given in the health education policy.
Audio recordings accompanied by pictures help patients with low literacy levels and visual problems to understand the message being put across in a health education policy. Pictures best convey information in the health policy when they are accompanied by text captions underneath. Inclusion of pictures and graphic images in health education resources focuses the patient’s attention on the resource. This increases comprehension of the information being put across, chances of remembering the message and increasing possibilities that the patients will comply with the instructions on the resource. The effectiveness of printed health information depends on how readable the resource is when compared with the literacy level of the gout patient. An attractive layout pulls the reader’s eyes to the content of the resource.
Gout is managed most successfully in places where patients are provided with medication and given clear instructions. Follow-up by health education professionals on effectiveness of the medication and instructions go a long way in helping gout patients to live a long and productive life. Efficient health educators understand that both the patient and his/her family require support, and they gladly assist them. Gout patients should be educated about the importance of engaging in exercises. The health educator must ensure that the patients are aware of the importance of taking medication that lowers uric levels to reduce instances of occurrence of tophi and abscesses. Health educators must ensure that health education resources on gout can be easily accessed by patients and that the information contained therein is understood without difficulties. The public must be armed with facts so that they stop relying on retrogressive beliefs and myths about gout.