New tool to tailor information for patients presenting with fatigue
In Australia, people often seek medical advice because of fatigue. However it is often not associated with underlying disease, particularly in young to middle aged adults, and may remain unexplained.
Managing patients with this symptom can present a range of challenges for general practitioners. As part of the current NPS MedicineWise program Back to basics for fatigue: a diagnostic approach, a new online tool is now available to support health professionals in consultations with patients presenting with fatigue.
The 'fatigue information prescription' online resource helps facilitate discussion between health professional and patient on the many possible causes of fatigue, and identify and address lifestyle factors that may be relevant to that individual.
Patient-specific information can be customised and saved (in PDF format) and emailed to the patient or printed out during the consultation.
NPS MedicineWise Clinical Adviser Dr Andrew Boyden says, "The new information prescription tool provides patients with clear explanations about the association between fatigue and lifestyle, psychosocial and physical causes, or a combination of these. The tool also supports conversations about the appropriateness of diagnostic testing for fatigue."
An example of using the tool in a consultation is a patient presenting with fatigue who, after questioning, reveals to their GP that they regularly drink caffeinated drinks late at night. An information prescription for this patient can be provided—with points about the effect of caffeine on sleep, and an action plan on how to reduce caffeine intake and improve sleep hygiene.
The tool provides patient information and management tips, such as a healthy diet, drinking less alcohol and caffeine, sleep hygiene and looking after emotional and mental health. It complements the suite of NPS MedicineWise health professional products for fatigue:
- Case study: Fatigue: a diagnostic approach
- Online learning module: Dealing with uncertainty: a diagnostic approach to fatigue
- MedicineWise News: A diagnostic approach to fatigue
- Fatigue knowledge hub
- Fatigue management pad
- One-on-one or group meeting educational visits
The fatigue information prescription online tool can be accessed at www.nps.org.au/fatigue-information-prescription
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