A good education is good for your health. RAND was the first research and development organization to earn the term “think tank,” and its new report found a link between a patient’s level of education and the likelihood that they’ll properly carry out doctors’ orders. That surprised Dr Robert Lee.It wasn’t their sex or income that separated patients but their education that best predicted whether they’d keep up with their treatment program and stay healthier. The RAND study used diabetics and H-I-V-positive patients, who often have complex and costly medication and behavior routines to follow. Lee is board chair at the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians. Lee says he’s saddened by patients who can’t afford treatment, and cut back on glucose testing or the pills they’re supposed to take daily. But then, he says, there are patients who just don’t do things to keep themselves healthy. They view their disease as not their problem but the doctor’s problem, like the diabetic who wants to eat big meals every night and sit in front of the TV, behavior the frustrated doctor can’t “fix.” Dr Lee is in family practice and says perhaps more educated people are motivated to do what they know is right for their health.When they’re overeating, smoking, not wearing seatbelts, rarely does he tell a patient about a more healthy behavior they didn’t really already know. He quotes the patient as saying “yup, I already knew that” and says his job then is to get a patient motivated to do the right thing. The RAND study found extensive training could help patients with lower educational levels improve their compliance with doctor’s orders.
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