Evaluation of Learning Styles for Patients with COPD

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Lonny Ashworth


Background: Healthcare is currently undergoing a drastic transformation within the United States with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. This pilot study aims to identify trends in preferred learning styles among patients with COPD in order to facilitate an improved approach to patient education and reduce 30-day hospital re-admittance rates.

Method: After receiving IRB approval, 22 adult patients with a confirmed diagnosis of COPD who were enrolled in a Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation education course, were recruited to participate in a qualitative survey. The anonymous survey consisted of 11 multiple choice questions; answers were coded in a spreadsheet in order to determine common themes.

Results: Most subjects (59%) reported that they want to know as much detailed information as possible pertaining to their disease. One-on-one (41%) and small groups (41%) were found to be the most preferred learning modalities, with more than half (55%) of the participants agreeing that they learn best at a rehabilitation center; 27% of the subjects stated they prefer to learn at a doctor’s office. No subjects stated that they learn best at a hospital. Most subjects stated that they sometimes (46%) or never (32%) use the internet to learn about COPD, and instead choose to learn about COPD and their medications through discussions with a respiratory therapist or nurse (82%), followed by an MD (77%) and reading materials (64%). There was no statistically significant relationship between the time period for hospital admission and any of the demographic characteristics or questions about how, where, or from whom patients would prefer to learn about COPD and medications, with the exception of using the internet. In these instances, the four patients reporting that they would use the internet for these purposes had a hospital admission more than a year ago (p< .05).

Conclusion: Based on our survey results, there needs to be a better job of tailoring information provided by place, modality and source when educating patients about COPD. Distinguishing a patient’s preferred learning style is essential. Patients do not want to be “taught” about their COPD at the hospital; they prefer one-on-one or small groups outside the hospital setting. Respiratory therapists will need to be able to blend their role as a health care provider along with the role as an educator in order to maximize patient benefit.

Disclosures: The authors have no conflicts of interest.

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