(HealthDay News) — For patients with chronic disease, health providers do not routinely provide health education, according to a study published March 6 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Preventing Chronic Disease.

Tamara S. Ritsema, MPH, from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and colleagues examined the rate of health education provision by physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners/certified midwives using data from 2005–2009 from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Data were abstracted for 136,432 adult patient visits for chronic conditions, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), depression, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, and obesity.

The researchers found that health education was not routinely provided to patients. The proportion of patients who received information varied from 13.0% for patients with COPD or asthma, who were provided smoking cessation education by nurse practitioners, to 42.2% among patients with diabetes or obesity, who were provided exercise information by a physician assistant. Rates of health education were higher among physician assistants and nurse practitioners than among physicians for all conditions assessed.

“More research is needed to understand the causes of these differences and potential opportunities to increase the delivery of condition-specific education to patients,” the authors write.

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