Underutilized time for health education of hospitalized patients

Eugene S. Chu, David Hakkarinen, Crystal Evig, Stacey Page, Angela Keniston, Miriam Dickinson, Richard K. Albert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Our anecdotal observations suggested that hospitalized patients had considerable time during the day when they were not occupied with diagnostic testing or other activities. Accordingly, we sought to quantify the fraction of free time that hospitalized patients had available to participate in health educational activities and if and when during their hospitalization they were interested in participating in these activities and felt capable of doing so. Methods: From June 25 through August 15, 2005, randomly selected consenting patients admitted to the Internal Medicine service of an academic safety-net hospital became subjects of a time-motion study that was conducted from admission to discharge or to hospital Day 6. Another randomly selected group received daily surveys, and patients in a third group were interviewed on Day 2 or 3 of their hospitalization. Results: Time-motion data, surveys, and interviews were obtained from 13, 138, and 15 patients, respectively. Of the 316 patient-hours observed, 71% were classified as downtime. More than 80% of patients either "strongly agreed" or "agreed" that they were interested in and capable of being educated on all days of their hospitalization. The themes generated from the interviews included the desire to know more about self-management, prevention of disease recurrence or progression, and their primary illness. Conclusions: Adult medical inpatients have considerable time and strong motivation to participate in health educational activities throughout their hospitalization. The current structure for educating hospitalized patients should be supplemented to take these findings into account.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-246
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of hospital medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008


  • Health literacy
  • Health promotion
  • Patient education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fundamentals and skills
  • Care Planning
  • Assessment and Diagnosis
  • Health Policy
  • Leadership and Management
  • Internal Medicine


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