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J Psychiatr Res. 2008 Jan;42(1):1-21. Epub 2007 Feb 1.

Multimedia educational aids for improving consumer knowledge about illness management and treatment decisions: a review of randomized controlled trials.

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Department of Psychiatry, Division of Geriatric Psychiatry, University of California, 116A-1 VA San Diego Healthcare System, 3350 La Jolla Village Drive, San Diego, CA 92161, USA.


Psychiatric practice is becoming increasingly more complex in terms of the available treatment options, use of new technologies for assessments, and a need for psychiatric patients and their caregivers to be familiar with general medical procedures. This trend will only intensify in the years to come. Routine methods of providing information relevant to clinical decision making about healthcare evaluations or management are often suboptimal. Relatively little research has been done on enhancing the capacity of psychiatric patients and the caregivers to make truly informed decisions about management. In this paper, we review studies that compared the effects of multimedia (video- or computer-based) educational aids with those of routine procedures to inform healthcare consumers about medical evaluations or management. Although most of these investigations were conducted in non-psychiatric patients, the results should be relevant for psychiatric practice of tomorrow. We searched MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and CINAHL bibliographic databases. Randomized controlled trials that used objective measures of knowledge or understanding of the information provided were selected. Studies were rated as positive if the multimedia educational aid resulted in a greater improvement in knowledge or understanding than the control condition. The quality of each study was also rated using a newly developed Scale for Assessing Scientific Quality of Investigations (SASQI). A total of 37 randomized controlled trials were identified. Nearly two-thirds of the studies (23/37) in diverse patient populations and for varied medical assessments and treatments reported that multimedia educational aids produced better understanding of information compared to routine methods. SASQI scores for the positive and negative studies were comparable, suggesting that lower quality was not related to positive findings. In conclusion, multimedia educational aids hold promise for improving the provision of complex medical information to patients and caregivers. It is likely that as psychiatric patients and their treating clinicians face increasingly complex choices regarding mental health treatment, multimedia decisional aids could become an effective supplement to the clinician patient interaction in near future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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