BACKGROUND: Patient education is an essential part in the treatment of coronary heart disease in medical rehabilitation. In the German-speaking area, no standardized and evaluated patient education program for coronary heart disease is available so far. In this paper, we demonstrate the development of a quality assured patient education program based on a health-education program of the German statutory pension insurance scheme. METHODS: In a multi-level approach, an existing program was modified concerning treatment evidence, practical guidelines, theories of health and illness behavior and quality criteria for patient education as well as clinical experience and thereafter manualized. In a formative evaluation, feasibility and patient acceptance of this modified program were assessed using evaluation questionnaires of patients and trainers. Afterwards, effects of the patient education program as compared to a traditional education program were assessed on a short-term (at discharge), medium-term (6-month follow-up) and long-term (12-month follow-up) basis in a multicenter quasi-experimental control group study of patients with coronary heart disease (n=434). RESULTS: Results of the formative evaluation demonstrate an overall good acceptance and a good feasibility of the manualized program. Short-term results show a significant small treatment effect in the primary outcome variable patients' knowledge (p=0.001, Î·2 =0.028). Furthermore, small effects were also observed among some secondary outcomes, such as attitude towards medication, planning of physical activity, psychological quality of life and satisfaction with the education program. CONCLUSION: A standardized education program for patients with coronary heart disease has been developed in a systematic process based on established quality standards. Depending on the outstanding medium and long-term effects, the program may be recommended for general use in medical rehabilitation. The manual provides the prerequisites allowing for a successful transfer into clinical practice.
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