The meaning of patient education within the Planetree model, from the perspective of the patient

Date of Completion

January 2000


Health Sciences, Nursing|Health Sciences, Public Health




The health care service industry has implemented significant changes in the delivery of care over the last decade. One outcome of these changes is more rapid movement of patients through the acute phases of care. How and when do patients acquire the education and skills they need to understand their acute health care situation and to effectively engage in acute care decisions? ^ The Planetree Model assumes that education is a corner stone of patient care. This phenomenological study elicited a description of the meaning of education from patients who were hospitalized at a Planetree facility. Thirteen participants met the following criteria: 18 years of age or older; hospitalized for an acute, medical-surgical admission; and able to articulate the experience of education during their acute care stay. Purposeful sampling continued until data saturation was evident. ^ Data were collected through interviews which were conducted 14 to 21 days after the participant's hospital discharge. Participants were asked to: “Please describe your experience with education or teaching during your hospital stay.” Audiotapes of the interviews were transcribed verbatim and data were analyzed using Colaizzi's method. Seven themes were derived from participant data. First, participants tried to sort out on their own what was happening. Participants then worked with care providers to determine a cause for the illness and an understanding of what happened. Understanding was facilitated by providers describing the care provided as they provided it, while also attending to the uniqueness of each participant. Participants relied on the expertise of providers; they also trusted themselves and their knowledge of their own bodies. Participants then dealt with the consequence of knowing and their responsibility for care decisions and their future health. When the illness resolved, participants framed the experience within the context of their lives and focused on moving on. ^ This study adds to the body of knowledge about Planetree, and to nursing's knowledge about the meaning of patient education during an acute hospitalization. Findings lend direction to how nursing defines patient education, how nursing prepares nurses in patient education, and how nursing identifies research and practice opportunities in patient education. ^