Interviews - Antonio Torrelo



  1. Puce First of all, do you have an individual and/or collective approach ?

Well we’re actually in the process of setting up our project at the moment. We’re holding meetings, we have a program, we have a schedule, we’re preparing materials for delivery and we hope to start in around two months. We will be working with small groups and we will be considering a mixed approach, which is not entirely individual. A paediatrician will initially refer the patients. This means that doctors will contact us with a patient and we will organise our planning in order to see as many patients as possible. Patients will not be able to contact us directly.

The Collective approach :

  1. Puce Will you see the patients individually before the group sessions in order to make en educative diagnosis ?

Yes, in the first of three sessions we plan to score the severity of the patient’s disease and then we will start the general sessions.

  1. Puce How many participants will there be in the collective workshops and who will they be (children, parents, other adults…) ?

Well, there will be around 6 to 8 patients in each group. We’re going to mainly focus on children and the age group will be from infants to 12 years old. We will attempt to expand the experience to teenagers but it’s doubtful that adults will be included as this is a children’s hospital.

  1. Puce Who is the educational staff for this programme (doctors, nurses, psychologists..) ?

There is the regular staff and then there are two paediatric dermatologists who will always be present. We will also have the cooperation of a paediatrician and an allergist. We will have the support of a psychologist but there won’t be a nutritionist because this speciality is not recognised in Spain. The allergist will assume this role.

  1. Puce What training, if any, will the participating members of staff receive ?

We won’t have specific training for the staff nor are there specific organisations in Spain dedicated to training in patient education. We’re going to start with our personal experience and in the future we’ll be able to train other people in setting up other Atopic schools. We will think about training staff but I’m not sure how possible this will be because I think you need the highest level of specialisation to answer the patient’s questions and I’m not sure that nurses or other staff who are not specialised in atopic dermatitis would be able to do this. So, at least in the beginning, we’re going to use only very experienced people.

  1. Puce What are the principal aims of these workshops ?

Well, the main goals of the sessions are to provide information and to try to calm any doubts or answer any questions that the patients may have.

  1. Puce Do you use educational support tools and if so can you describe them ?

Yes we’re going to use audio-visual tools and some written material but not a lot because we’re setting up a web site where patients can download information. This will be a Spanish web site.

  1. Puce How is the link established between the atopic school and the dermatologists and paediatricians in private practice ?

Well we’re setting this up in a public hospital. We would like to collaborate with private dermatologists but that will depend on how many dermatologists and pediatricians will be interested. Anyway, in Spain most doctors work part time in the hospital and part time in private practice so the numbers of strictly private practices are limited. We’re going to start in core centres and when it gains in popularity we hope that many doctors will become interested but I can’t tell you today what that response will be. I think that they will love it, but it’s a new experience.

  1. Puce How is your atopic school funded ?

Well this project will be integrated into the hospital budget, and will be considered the same as any other medical act in this context. In this way we can benefit from the audio-visual facilities of the hospital for example. There is one company, however, who are helping us, notably with the web site and also providing little gifts for the children.

  1. Puce Do you have contact with other patient education teams, particularly those teams working with Asthma or Food Allergies ?

There are teams working in this hospital from whom we can get information but we haven’t been working with them so far.


  1. Puce What role, if any, do parent associations/patient support groups, play in the atopic schools ?

Not so long ago there was no real association culture in Spain but now many associations are appearing and there is a strong atopic dermatitis group which is a patient’s association and they are doing a lot of things. I have spoken to the president of this association and I’m sure they will help and cooperate with this project.

  1. Puce What role, if any, do schools play in managing chronic skin disease ?

None, so far, and we haven’t planned to expand our project to include schools. We have a lot of work to do first. Maybe in the future we’ll be ready to do that.

  1. Puce Besides Atopic schools, is patient education developed for other pathologies in your country, and if yes, which pathologies are concerned ?

Well I think so. I think for Diabetes, Asthma some patients with cancer and some other chronic pathologies. Concerning skin disease, however, there is no other project like this.

  1. Puce Do you have official patient education recommendations/guidelines in your country ?

Well honestly I don’t know, I have to check that one, but as patient education is quite a new discipline in Spain I don’t think so.

  1. Puce How many active education departments exist today in your country ?

Well we’re the first in fact! As we say in Spain we’re still wearing diapers in this respect but we hope to have the project up and running in two months.

  1. Puce How much do you invoice the whole education course ?

The sessions are not invoiced as patients are covered by their social security contributions and the cost is integrated into the hospital budget.

Thank you Antonio Torrelo.

Dr. Antonio Torrelo

Servicio de Dermatología

Hospital del Niño Jesús

Menéndez Pelayo 65