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Writing consumer health information


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  • 1. Associate Professor Anne Johnson
  • 2.
    • Background information
    • How do you assess information?
    • Resources you can use
    • Suggestions for how to write more clearly and effectively
  • 3.
    • Patient-centred care is about sharing the management of an illness/condition between patient (and significant other) and practitioner.
    • It is in contrast to the traditional, didactic “Medical model” approach to the practitioner-patient interaction which focuses on the disease rather than the person with the disease and the power and knowledge rests with the practitioner.
  • 4. Degree Participants’ Action High Have control Have delegated Plan jointly Advise Low Are consulted Receive information None
  • 5.
    • Enabling an open exchange of information between health professionals and consumers is essential in the provision of appropriate and effective patient-centred care.
    • It is a right of consumers to have access to up-to-date, accurate, relevant and understandable information on which to base informed choice and informed consent. Written information is one approach to the provision of this information.
  • 6.
    • 75% of oral communication is ignored, misunderstood or quickly forgotten (Bolton 1986) .
    • Quality written information as a communication tool greatly enhances learning and retention of information, increases confidence, decreases unnecessary contacts with health professionals and increases consumer satisfaction.
  • 7.
    • The Cochrane Review, “ Written and verbal information versus verbal information only for patients being discharged from acute hospital settings to home ”, found that
      • the knowledge and satisfaction of patients and/or significant others appears to improve when a combination of verbal and written health information is provided compared to verbal information only.
    • (Johnson A, Sandford J, Tyndall J, 2003, Issue 4, The Cochrane Library)
  • 8.  
  • 9.
    • Health literacy is:
      • The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information to make appropriate health decisions.
  • 10.
    • Health literacy has a direct influence on people’s access to crucial information about their rights and health care, whether it involves following instructions for care, taking medication, comprehending disease-related information, what services/programs are available for them to access, or learning about disease prevention and health promotion (Rudd et. al.1999).
  • 11.
    • Health care and maintenance
    • Health promotion
    • Health protection
    • Disease prevention
    • Systems navigation
  • 12.  
  • 13.  
  • 14.
    • At each higher level of self-reported level of overall health, adults had higher average health literacy than adults in the next lower level.
    • Excellent health = average score 262
    • Very good health = average score 254
    • Good health = average score 234
    • Fair health = average score 207
    • Poor health = average score 196
  • 15.  
  • 16.  
  • 17.  
  • 18.  
  • 19.
    • Lower percentages of adults with Below Basic health literacy than adults with Basic, Intermediate, or Proficient health literacy reported that they got information about health issues from any written sources.
    • 20% of adults with Below Basic health literacy got information about health issues from the Internet. This compared to 42% with Basic health literacy, 67% with Intermediate and 85% with Proficient .
  • 20.  
  • 21. .
  • 22.  
  • 23.
    • Higher percentages of adults with Below Basic or Basic health literacy than adults with Intermediate health received a lot of information about health issues from radio literacy and TV.
    • Adults with Proficient health literacy were least likely to receive a lot of information about health issues from those same non-print media sources.
  • 24.
    • Consumer information
    • Citizen information
    • Choice information
    • Coping information
    • Community health promotion information
  • 25.
    • Educational resources as part of an education program
    • Health/illness information
    • Procedural and medication information
    • Service information
    • Health information for the community
  • 26.
    • This is mine!
    • What do other staff think of this?
    • Let’s do it as a department/team!
    • Let’s forms a committee!
    • What do consumers think should be included?
    • The consumer(s) want to do it and want us to help!
    • (Johnson A, 1998, Reorienting a health service to become more health promoting. PhD thesis, Flinders University)
  • 27.
    • Where consumers and health professionals work collaboratively.
    • Most common flaw is where health professionals ask consumers to comment on the design and content of an existing draft (Coulter et. al. 1999)
  • 28.
    • When you look at consumer health information what criteria do you use to make your judgment about whether you think it is is any good or not?
  • 29.
    • NHMRC (1999) How to present the evidence for consumers: preparation of consumer publications.
    • Victorian DHS (2000) Well written health information: A guide.
  • 30.
    • Health Consumers’ Council WA (1997) Best Practice Guidelines for Developing Patient Information.
    • Plain English Campaign, How to write medical information in plain English, UK
  • 31.
    • Better Information and Communication Practices
    • Communication Rights Australia (CAUS) – communication tool for people with speech and communication difficulties
    • NSW Health terminology and protocol guide for communicating with Aboriginal people.
  • 32.
    • What is the purpose?
    • Who is the information being written for?
    • What is the information that needs to be covered?
    • Have you reviewed existing material on the subject?
    • Have you discussed the project with your department head and secured support?
  • 33.
    • Whom else needs to be involved?
    • How best to involve consumers and others?
    • What format best suits the information?
    • What is the cost of the proposed project?
  • 34.
    • In your writing style have you
      • Kept sentences short and to the point?
      • Expressed only one idea in each sentence?
      • Used simple grammatical structures?
      • Written in the active versus the passive voice?
      • Used the second person YOU instead of the third person such as ‘the patient’ or ‘individuals’
  • 35.
      • Limited the number of words containing three or more syllables?
      • Tried to keep the eye span to no more that 60-70 characters?
      • Used adequate spacing to provide the eyes with a rest?
      • Used font size of suitable size (11 or 12) and Times New Roman or other easy to read font.
  • 36.
    • Have you taken the following into account when writing?
      • Does the information address the message you want to convey as well as what the target group want to know?
      • Can the information be supported by current research?
      • Is the information consistent with your organisations standards/policies?
  • 37.
      • Is the content organised so that the “must know” information comes before the “nice to know” information?
      • Is the content organised so it flows well?
      • Where appropriate have you used illustrations to convey the message more clearly?
      • Is the content free from jargon and abbreviations?
      • Have you used consistent terminology?
  • 38.
      • Would the message be more clearly communicated through the use of:
        • Question and answer format?
        • Headings?
        • Point form where appropriate?
        • ‘ Remember’ boxes which contain the most important points/action steps?
  • 39.
    • Have you remained gender neutral, or it it a gender specific topic?
    • Is the information respectful towards the target group?
    • Have you identified your department and organisation and provided a contact number and address?
    • Is the publication dated?
    • If necessary, have you placed © on it?
  • 40.
    • Has the draft been analysed to ensure clarity, accuracy and appropriate reading age?
      • Reading age dependent on target group. Standard is usually grade 8 reading level.
      • Objective feedback from someone with good writing skills.
      • Final copy edited for printing errors.
  • 41.
    • Step 1: count 10 consecutive sentences near the beginning, middle and end of the material (total of 30 sentences). A sentence is any list of words ending in a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark.
    • Step 2: count every word of three or more syllables in the 30 sentences. Count repetitions of words.
  • 42.
    • Step 3: Obtain the nearest square root of the number of three or more syllabled words.
    • Step 4: Add three to the square root. This gives you the SMOG Grade
  • 43.
    • Step 1: 10 sentences beginning, middle and end (= 30 sentences)
    • Step 2:
        • 21
        • 28
        • 23
        • Total 72
  • 44.
    • Step 3: 64=8
    • Step 4: 8 + 3 = 11th grade
  • 45.
    • College reading level
      • with the onset of nausea, diarrhoea or other gastrointestinal disturbances, consult your physician immediately.
    • 12th Grade Reading Level
      • If you experience nausea, diarrhoea or other stomach or bowel problems, call your physician.
  • 46.
    • 8th Grade Reading Level
      • If you start having nausea, loose bowel movements or other stomach or bowel problems call your doctor immediately.
    • 4th Grade Reading Level
      • If you start having an upset stomach, loose bowel movements or other problems call your doctor right away.
  • 47.
    • Have you planned your evaluation process for the publication?
    • How would you evaluate?
  • 48. Effective health information is developed with the people who will be using it.