Education in the Waiting Room
Thomas F. Plaut, M.D. Asthma Consultants,
Health professionals say that their busy schedules
allow little time for teaching.
To deal with this problem we asked patients
to read about asthma in the waiting room.
We wanted to determine whether they could
learn some basic asthma information while
waiting to be seen. This process would require
no staff time and would reduce complaints
about long waits.
Sixty-eight allergists, pediatricians and
respiratory therapists with an interest in
asthma education were invited to participate.
Twenty agreed to do so and eight completed
the project. In each site the receptionist
identified two subjects and controls as they
arrived for their first asthma visit to the
practice. Three fourths of the subjects and
controls had received asthma care elsewhere
before this visit.
receptionist gave a copy of the booklet One
Minute Asthma, the only booklet for patients
referenced in the 1997 NHLBI Guidelines, to
each of the subjects. A slip clipped to the
booklet instructed patients to read four specific
pages on asthma control, the airways and asthma
medicines while they waited to be seen. Many
patients read about additional subjects.
the exam room the physician or respiratory
therapist asked three questions of the two
subjects and two controls. They forwarded
the answers and comments on the One Minute
Asthma booklet to me. They also assessed their
communication with the subjects and noted
whether the reading had led to better questions
or a more focused visit.
The questions and rationale for each were: