From 1995 to 1998, staff from Healthwise, a Boise, Idaho, private non-profit educational organization, conducted a multi-faceted public education campaign focusing on patient self-care intervention in a four-county Idaho area.
Investigators from the Oregon Health Services University evaluated the project. They also conducted a separate evaluation of a similar project aimed at Medicaid patients in Portland, Ore.
Healthwise investigators achieved the following:
- Established a public awareness campaign on patient self-care that included ads and newspaper columns.
- Revised and distributed more than 130,000 copies of the Healthwise Handbook, a consumer guide to self-care.
- Provided more than 500 workshops for community groups, project sponsors, and health care professionals.
- Began operating a toll-free nurse-staffed telephone information line.
- Developed and maintained a Web site for community access to consumer health information.
- Established "Healthwise Information Stations" in public libraries, clinics and work sites.
- Developed replication materials for other communities interested in implementing a similar project.
In the evaluation of the Idaho project:
- Investigators found some evidence that the intervention reduced utilization of unneeded health services, but did not result in a significant decrease in primary care visits during the study period.
- Project participants showed an increased use of self-care manuals and were more likely than non-participants to say that using self-care manuals reduced worry, helped them self-treat symptoms, and saved them visits to doctors.
In the evaluation of the similar project aimed at Medicaid patients in Portland:
- Investigators found a significant increase in use of the self-care manual but no significant decrease in primary care visits during the study period.