Department of Medicine, DIMED, University of Padova, Padova, Italy.
Providing structured information for the understanding of hepatic encephalopathy (HE) might be relevant to the prevention and management of the syndrome. The aim of our study was to design a brief, structured educational intervention and evaluate its usefulness in preventing HE-related hospitalisation over time.
Thirty-nine cirrhotic outpatients with a history of HE were enrolled and randomly assigned to an intervention (group A; n=20) or control group (group B; n=19). All of them underwent evaluation of HE (clinical and quantitative neuropsychiatric assessment) and completed the Questionnaire on the Awareness of Encephalopathy. A 15 min educational session was then provided to patients in group A, including basic information on the pathophysiology, hygienic and medical management of HE.
No demographic/clinical differences were observed at baseline between the two groups. Similarly, there were no significant differences in HE-related information available at baseline between the two groups; knowledge of HE was limited in both. The intervention was highly effective in increasing patients' understanding of treatment of the condition (from 5% to 80%). The educational intervention also reduced the risk of developing an episode of HE over a period of 12 months.
The educational intervention confirmed the poor knowledge of patients with previous HE about their condition, served as a tool to increase patients' awareness, and minimised HE-related readmission rates over a period of 1 year.