Facts4Life was originally developed as an early intervention model, exploring themes and attitudes with young children so as to combat the culture of wanting a quick fix (usually using drugs) to our medical needs and to promote the idea that our bodies are remarkably resilient and, in most cases, will get better from most illnesses on their own.

But would the Facts4Life philosophy work with groups of adult patients? This is the question that Leicester CCG wanted to find the answer to. A pilot project was set up in the early part of 2019 working with patients in two different surgeries.

It was felt that the Facts4Life programme would be best suited to ‘frequent flyers’ i.e. those patients who were frequent visitors to the surgery for minor ailments. In the event, we ended up with two quite different patient groups. The first was a group of patients with a range of needs – depression and anxiety being common across the group. The second group was made up of representatives of the surgery’s Patient Participation Group.

The groups met on three consecutive Mondays. The sessions themselves comprised a number of activities which explored and promoted the Facts4Life approach – many of which are used in schools and / or in training sessions with teachers. Sessions were an hour long with an extra half an hour for tea, biscuits and informal chatting at the end.

Impact was measured through a pre and post session attitudinal survey as well as a brief evaluation form. Improvement in attitude were seen in all the attitudinal questions overall with the greatest positive change being in the statements ‘Most of the time my body will get better by itself’ and ‘When I feel ill I [always] need to take time off’.

Comments from the final evaluation survey highlighted several positives: how things were explained simply; group discussion and interaction; talking about things without feeling frightened; talking about each others’ feelings; meeting others in similar situations and feeling understood. 5 out of 6 participants said they would do something different as a result of the sessions including talking to others and using self help strategies. When asked what their next steps would be, participants commented on using the strategies regularly, setting achievable goals and going to either confidential counselling or other self-help groups.

Overall, it was felt that the sessions had a positive impact, even though the participation groups in the pilot were not the ideal target group for this intervention. The Patient Participation Group asked for the rest of their representatives to be trained in the Facts4Life approach and their surgery started using the Facts4Life PowerPoint in the waiting room at their suggestion.

The pilot certainly suggested that the Facts4Life approach could be used with adult patients to promote positive attitudes and give useful self-care strategies. We look forward to developing this strand of Facts4Life in the future.

Pete Kirby September 2019