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The Problem of Nurse-Delivered Patient Education

Identification of the Problem

Patient education is one of the concerns of health care with the potential to improve patient outcomes through educating them about peculiarities of their conditions and the necessary care. Some time ago, patient education was the responsibility of physicians. Nevertheless, with the increasing role of a nurse in the process of care, patient education interventions become a part of nursing work. Education interventions can be applied to different patients in diverse clinical settings and there is evidence proving their effectiveness. For example, nurses can contribute to asthma control and management in children being in the roles of educators (Konstantaki et al., 2013).

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Nurse-delivered patient education builds patients’ knowledge and skills necessary for successful self-management after discharge (Bergh, Friberg, Persson, & Dahlborg-Lyckhage, 2015). What is more important, patient education can be applied for reducing hospital readmissions, which are a problem because at least 20% of patients are readmitted within a 30day period after discharge (“The role of patient education in reducing hospital readmissions,” 2015). While the problem of nurse-delivered patient education is actively discussed, it lacks consistency and systematization of knowledge that allows planning further research. This literature review summarizes and analyzes different aspects of patient education provided by nurses.

Methodology for Searching the Evidence

The review of research papers is used for searching for evidence on the problem of patient education provided by nurses. The search was conducted in such scholarly journal resources as SAGE Journals, Science Direct, LWW Journals, and Google. Scholar. The search was limited by the publication date and keywords. Thus, only journals published within five years were selected. It allowed finding relevant and contemporary research evidence. The keywords used in this search were “patient education,” “nurse as an educator,” “nurse-delivered patient education,” and “nurses’ role in patient education.” Five articles that met the selection criteria were included in the analysis.

Identification of Existing, Relevant Knowledge

In conditions of constant changes in health care, patient educations also undergo certain changes that are expected to improve this process. Bergh et al. (2015) conduct research on patient education in everyday primary care practice provided by registered nurses on the examples from Swedish primary care facilities. The study involving the primary care managers and their evaluation of nurse-provided patient education revealed such important discourses as economic, medical, organizational, and didactic (Bergh et al., 2015). These discourses are the aspects that belong to the concept of patient education.

Didactic discourse is related to the pedagogical competence of nurses and their ability to deliver information important for the patient’s self-management. Also, it implies health promotion as a component of the daily work of a nurse. Economic discourse involves the costs spent on patient care on the whole and primary care settings in particular. It is expected that patient education can reduce admissions of patients for consultations without a serious reason (Bergh et al., 2015). Medical discourse is the most important for nurses providing patient education because they have to use their medical competence to provide patients with the knowledge necessary for their self-management. Finally, organizational discourse implies the design and implementation of healthcare in agreement with patient’s needs (Bergh et al., 2015).

Generally, patient education is provided by experienced professional nurses. To empower the participation of new nurses in patient education interventions, Smith and Zsohar (2013) suggest a study on tips that can be useful for effective patient teaching. Thus, the researchers provide the following recommendations on the organization of patient education. First of all, it is important to conduct an assessment for individualized teaching (Smith & Zsohar, 2013). It allows learning patient’s needs and planning education interventions to satisfy them. Secondly, it is necessary to create a learning environment and provide supportive and engaging surroundings. Also, it is crucial to select efficient strategies suitable for every patient. Finally, it is necessary to check if the selected technology and teaching are reaching the patient. This assessment can be conducted with the use of some key questions that reveal if the patient education was completed successfully.

To increase the effectiveness of patient education provided by nurses, this aspect of care should be included in the training of nurses. Bēta (2014) investigates the relevance of patient care issues in nursing education and practice and comes to the following conclusions. First of all, patient education can be planned or spontaneous, as a reaction to the patient’s question. Therefore, nurses should be prepared to fulfill educational, informative, or advisory functions any time they are at work. Another function that should be developed in nurses as a part of their training is the ability to promote understanding of health as a value and develop patient’s interest (Bēta, 2014). One more important function of a nurse is to be supportive thus encouraging cooperation with the patient and showing empathy and understanding. Finally, nurses should be taught to perform organizing function that allows identifying the meaning of time and resources necessary for educational interventions and remove the existing educational barriers (Bēta, 2014).

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Nurses can act as educators in different situations. Konstantaki et al. (2013), for example, study the role of a nurse as an educator in work with children diagnosed with asthma. The researchers reveal that a sedentary lifestyle is positively associated with an increased risk of asthma in children. Therefore, nurse-provided patient education interventions can be applied for helping young patients manage their disease through informing and teaching them how to reduce the risks and change lifestyles. Another field of applying nurse-delivered education is with the elderly inpatient population. Strupeit, Buss, and Dassen (2016) investigate the effectiveness of nurse-delivered patient education on the quality of life of elderly patients in the hospital setting. Nevertheless, the studies they included in the systematic review did not prove the positive impact of patient education on life satisfaction. Therefore, further research is necessary to reveal interventions that can be beneficial for the quality of life of patients.

Analysis and Synthesis of Evidence

The findings of studies included in this review reveal that nurse-delivered patient education is a complex issue that needs systematization and further investigation. First of all, it is evident that patient education interventions can be used with any category of patients disregarding age or reasons for admission. Thus, it is applied among children (Konstantaki et al., 2013) and elderly people (Strupeit et al., 2016). Secondly, patient education interventions should be well-prepared and carefully planned. Smith and Zsohar (2013) focus on the significance of effective patient teaching and the tips they provide to achieve effectiveness can be applied to other research projects that involve patient education. One of the crucial aspects of educational intervention preparation is the assessment for individualized teaching. It can be applied for studies about life satisfaction that did not find proof of patient teaching effectiveness.

It is likely that the researchers in those projects did not evaluate the needs of elderly patients and components of their life satisfaction. Therefore, they were not able to develop interventions and address these needs. Moreover, a significant contribution of Smith and Zsohar (2013) to the problem of patient education is the attention to the learning environment. In conditions of a hospital or other healthcare facility, there is not always a suitable location for patient education interventions. Consequently, the unfavorable learning environment is likely to decrease the effectiveness of patient education. Bergh et al. (2015) also add to the issue of patient education. They claim that it is important to prepare nurses to conduct education interventions and this preparation should be a component of the nurse training program. On the whole, the analyzed studies provide an overview of the problem of nurse-delivered patient education and suggest directions for future investigations.


To summarizing, it should be mentioned that patient education is an integral component of care. It has the potential to improve patient outcomes, increase their self-management abilities, and decrease readmission rates. Therefore, it should be a component of nurse training and a primary concern of healthcare providers. It is important to provide careful preparation of interventions grounded on patient needs and organize the effective education process. In case patient education interventions are prepared appropriately and nurses who conduct them are professionally trained, these interventions are likely to be effective and result in better patient outcomes, cost reduction, and a decrease in readmission rates. Therefore, further research can be aimed at developing successful patient education strategies and interventions as well as the measurement of their effectiveness.


Bergh, A., Friberg, F., Persson, E., & Dahlborg-Lyckhage, E. (2015). Registered nurses’ patient education in everyday primary care practice. Global Qualitative Nursing Research, 2, 233339361559916. Web.

Bēta, G. (2014). Patient education – Relevance in nursing education and practice. American Journal of Educational Research, 2(7), 441-446. Web.

Konstantaki, E., Priftis, K., Antonogeorgos, G., Papoutsakis, C., Drakouli, M., & Matziou, V. (2013). The association of sedentary lifestyle with childhood asthma. The role of nurse as educator. Allergologia et Immunopathologia, 554, 1-7. Web.

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The role of patient education in reducing hospital readmissions. (2015). Web.

Smith, J., & Zsohar, H. (2013). Patient-education tips for new nurses. Nursing, 43(10), 1-3. Web.

Strupeit, S., Buss, A., & Dassen, T. (2016). Effectiveness of nurse-delivered patient education interventions on quality of life in elders in the hospital: A systematic review. Applied Nursing Research, 32, 217-221. Web.

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