Development of an online, evidence-based patient information portal for congenital heart disease: A pilot study

J.R.G. Etnel, A.P.J. van Dijk, J. Kluin, R.A. Bertels, E.M.W.J. Utens, E. van Galen, R. The, A.J.J.C. Bogers, J.J.M. Takkenberg

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Objectives: In response to an increased need for patient information on congenital heart disease in the Netherlands, we initiated a nationwide initiative to develop an online, evidence-based patient information portal, starting with a pilot project aimed at the subgroup of patients with congenital aortic and pulmonary valve disease.
Methods and results: We developed an information portal that aims to (1) improve patient knowledge and involvement and to subsequently reduce anxiety and decisional conflict and improve mental quality of life and (2) to support physicians in informing and communicating with their patients. The information portal was developed according to the systematic International Patient Decision Aid Standards development process employing Delphi techniques by a multidisciplinary workgroup of pediatric and adult congenital cardiologists, a congenital cardiothoracic surgeon, a psychologist, an epidemiologist, a patient representative, and web and industrial design experts. First, patients and physicians were surveyed and interviewed to assess the current state of patient information and explore their preferences and needs to determine the focus for the development of the information portal. We found that patient knowledge and numeracy are limited, reliable information is scarce, physicians inform patients selectively and patient involvement is suboptimal, and there is a need for more reliable, tailored, and multi-faceted information. Based on the findings of these surveys and interviews, a patient-tailored information portal was designed that presents evidence-based disease- and age-specific medical and psychosocial information about diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, and impact on daily life in a manner that is comprehensible and digestible for patients and that meets the needs expressed by both patients and physicians. The effect of the website on patient outcome is currently being assessed in a multicenter stepped-wedge implementation trial.

Conclusion: The present pilot project succeeded in developing an online, evidence-based information portal that is supported by both patients and physicians. The information portal will be further developed and expanded to include all other major forms of congenital heart disease, translations into other languages, and a public information portal to serve patients’ relatives and the general public at large.
Original languageEnglish
Article number25
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in cardiovascular medicine
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • Delphi technique; International Patient Decision Aid Standards development process; congenital heart disease; multidisciplinary approach; patient education tools; patient information; patient information portal; shared decision-making

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