The education of people with diabetes to enable them to play their role in self-management has long been recognised as an essential component of diabetes care. The same is true for several other chronic conditions, such as hypertension, obesity, post-myocardial infarction, asthma, epilepsy, back pain, etc.
Ten years ago the first international congress on Patient Education, organised in Geneva by Jean-Philippe Assal, attempted to build a bridge between different disciplines relevant to patient education. Since then, several controlled studies have led to some important insights:
The enormous importance of this issue for public health, and the impressive progress made in this field in recent years, led us to initiate and convene Therapeutic Patient Education 2006. The congress will cover recent advances made in TPE, and will serve as an important platform for presentation and evaluation of educational efforts in the management and long-term follow-up of diabetes and other chronic diseases.
The contribution of human sciences such as psychology, sociology, pedagogy, anthropology, bioethics, has allowed the translation of biomedical progress into better self-management of chronic diseases. However much has still to be done to integrate the biomedical approach and the humanistic approach, taking into account the complexity of each individual in a measurable and reproducible way. By bringing together experts in different sciences and specialists of different chronic diseases, this congress will hopefully create a melting pot in which the different paradigms of medicine will be confronted and reach a greater integration.
Still too often the criteria and methods of acute care are applied to the management of chronic diseases, resulting in poor outcomes and frustration of both patients and health professionals. One aim of this congress will be the definition of more efficient strategies for the long-term follow-up of people with chronic diseases.
Florence, the melting pot of different cultures and arts that has brought about the Italian Renaissance, appears to be a particularly appropriate venue for this congress, that will bring together different schools and different approaches in the field of therapeutic patient education. Only one caveat to participants: be aware of the danger of Stendhal’s syndrome.
We hope the congress will attract hundreds of physicians, nurses, dieticians, psychologists, podiatrists, and other health professionals working in this field. Eventually, the series of congresses which will hopefully follow may become the primary arena for discussion of the educational approach to chronic disease.