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Patient Educ Couns. 2006 Apr;61(1):92-8.

A computer-based information-tool for chronic pain patients. Computerized information to support the process of shared decision-making.

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Department of General Internal and Psychosomatic Medicine, Internal Medicine II, University of Heidelberg, Medical University Hospital, Im Neuenheimer Feld 410, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.



Assessment of the use of a computerized information-tool in the context of a shared decision-making process with chronic pain patients.


In the scope of a prospective and randomized study on shared decision-making with Fibromyalgia patients, a total of 75 patients had access to computer-based information about their illness. Fibromyalgia is a condition of chronic wide-spread pain, belonging to rheumatism, which mainly affects mature female patients. The majority of the patients in our study are female (93%) with an average age of 50 years. The computer-based information-tool provided the patients with detailed information about pathogenesis, typical symptoms, treatment options and prognosis. Six evaluative questions were posed to the participants concerning the assessment of the information presented, the handling of the programme, the need for an introduction to the programme, the quality of the layout and the assessment of the length of time spent in front of the computer and the assessment of the usefulness of such a tool in general practitioners' offices. Furthermore, psychological self-assessment questionnaires were filled out by the participants.


The patients highly appreciate the possibility of using computer-based information-tools and endorse the implementation of such tools in general practitioners' offices.


Computerized information leads to a better understanding of the illness and the treatment options on the part of the patient.


For further practical use it is crucial to provide an introduction to the handling of a computer to unskilled patients.

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