This article presents the development of patient education (PE) in The Netherlands from a historical perspective. A description is given of the first pioneering years from the 70s till the late 80s, in which early topics like the organization of PE, the orchestration of PE between different disciplines, the role of the social environment, the provision of PE in difficult patient groups and — most of all — the technical development of educational materials took the time and attention of the growing group of professionals that were engaged in patient education. Recent developments concern the legal aspects of PE, national policy, the role of health insurance, the position of patient organizations and the development of patient education in specific professional groups, e.g. general practitioners, nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists, and dentists. There is no doubt that patient education has been professionalized considerably during the last decades. Nevertheless, new issues emerge and some old issues still need to be solved. The effective use of information material, the need for counseling as part of PE, and the relevance of coordination of care are longtime, but still actual problems in PE. More recent issues are the pressures on PE because of capacity restraints, the influence of the media and perhaps most of all: the apparent need for a patient-centered\ud attitude and a more two-sided way of communication. Finally, the future policy topics in the Dutch patient education are\ud discussed
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