What Is Information Therapy?

Jillian O Keeffe
Jillian O Keeffe

Information therapy is a new type of patient information service in medicine. With its roots in the early 1990s as a concept, certain healthcare industries use it as part of their normal functioning when relating to patients. Typically, information therapy is the provision of information to patients about their particular medical conditions, which may allow patients to in a way treat themselves, with regard to lifestyle, and also to understand fully the extent and cause of their condition, which may help them to improve the outcome of an illness themselves.

The traditional method of medical treatment is that a doctor examines a patient, finds the cause of the problem, and gives the patient medications and instructions to make the problem better. A potential problem with this authoritative approach is that the patient may feel that he or she is unqualified to make decisions about healthcare and lifestyle compared with the doctor, and may simply attempt to follow a doctor's instructions to the letter and neglect to alter other problem areas of his or her lifestyle. The basis of information therapy is to allow the patient access to medical records and to information about health that may be useful to the patient, and not necessarily be restricted to the illness that the patient seeks care for at that particular time.

Medical records are the primary source of information for a doctor on a patient's specific problems, but yet most patients do not look at their own records. With a broken bone, for example, the patient may not request a copy of the radiological images for himself or herself, yet this is the clearest way of seeing what exactly is wrong with the bone and how a doctor fixes it. Clarity of knowledge like this can help the patient visualize the condition and may remind him or her to take more care when the bone is healing.

Although information therapy is a general term for providing patients with medical information and a way of learning more about their specific state of health, it can be present in healthcare settings in different versions. Leaflets in a doctor's office, for example, technically falls under information therapy, but is only one part of a larger concept. Computerized systems that provide a patient access to medical records, information on illnesses, and information on conditions as only a part of a patient's health are some of the ways in which information therapy proponents see the concept working in the future.

A potential advantage to having the right information and being able to understand clearly the causes and features of a medical condition for patients is that they may be able to improve their state of health as a result. The healthcare burden could be lessened as a result, and although as information therapy is not in widespread use across the globe, studies indicate that this may be the case. People who are informed about their health may also tend to be more able to practice self-care of minor ailments, rather than attending a doctor unnecessarily.

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