Background: Patient education programmes will be a mandatory part of the new legislation on disease management programmes for chronic diseases in Germany. Today, only little is known about the number, variety and effectiveness of implemented patient education programmes in Germany.
Methods: 176 potential providers of patient education programmes were identified by literature search, Internet search, and interviews with health education experts. We developed a semi-structured questionnaire. Assessment of content and quality was conducted in two steps by using defined criteria of the Co-ordinating Committee, the Head Association of the statutory health insurances and the respective Medical Associations: the first step was to check whether the programme had a structured teaching concept and whether all requirements for education with respect to a given disease had been taken into account. In the second step, we used balance sheets for reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of the programmes.
Results: 49 providers handed in 95 pa tient education programmes for assess ment. Due to formal mistakes only 91 programmes could be analysed. 49 programmes failed the criteria of the first assessment step. For the remaining 42 patient education programmes balance sheets were prepared. Areas of the most frequent deficiencies included: lack of scientific evaluation of the effectiveness of the programme, lack of transparency of cost data, and quality improvement activities.
Conclusions: For the purpose of a nation-wide implementation of disease management programmes the existing patient education programmes in Germany need to be further improved. Single examples demonstrated that the accessible criteria of self-management are not sufficient for the evaluation of already established patient education programmes.