Objectives: Education and information are important components of the management of chronic disease, though provision of these in the routine clinic setting may be suboptimal. We carried out a corporate needs assessment, both to evaluate stakeholders' perceived usefulness of potential facilities that could be offered by a community-based arthritis resource centre in Birmingham and to compare the views of patients with rheumatological conditions and health professionals.
Methods: Rheumatology patients (n = 201 responders/309 contacted) and health professionals (n = 232/430) were asked to complete a questionnaire to assess both current rheumatology service provision and perceived needs for further information that could be offered within the proposed resource centre. Views of patients and professionals were compared using odds ratios. Logistic regression analysis determined patient characteristics associated with perceived usefulness of various information types.
Results: The overall response rate was 58%. Most patients were currently receiving medication but only 38% received written information on arthritis. Over 80% of responders felt that more information would be useful, particularly information in written leaflets. Compared with professionals, patients gave higher value to certain types of medical, non-medical, support and skills information, particularly individual information from trained volunteers, and specific information on benefits, diet and alternative therapy, and symptom management. Non-Caucasian patients gave higher value to the provision of material in different languages and the availability of multilingual volunteer staff.
Conclusion: Rheumatology patients and professionals identified a relative lack of information for patients. There was wide interest in the provision of more information, with value placed on the provision of material in different languages, at an educational resource centre. This work has been used to develop the facilities currently offered at the Birmingham Arthritis Resource Centre. Further research is needed to investigate the effectiveness of the provision of good quality information to patients with arthritis.