The Health Expectations Journal has published a systematic review of literature reviews aimed at improving the quality of patient information leaflets (PILS), how to use them during consultations and methods for evaluating them.
The article draws general and condition-linked conclusions concerning the impact of PILs. Checklists summarize criteria for quality PILs, and ways of using and evaluating them.
The authors searched five databases for reviews, systematic reviews and meta-analyses describing PILs. They systematically searched PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, Web of Science and PsychInfo for original articles using the following Mesh terms: “handout”, “leaflet”, “booklet”, “pamphlet”, “flyer”, “folder”, “brochure”, “written patient information”, all synonyms AND “patient”
Of 986 articles found, 24 reviews were pertinent; the five oldest considered the impact of PILs irrespective of the condition the patient consulted for; the 19 more recent ones mostly addressed precise clinical situations.
The authors found that whatever the clinical situation, PILs improve patients’ knowledge and satisfaction. For acute conditions, in the short-term PILs also improve adherence to treatment. For chronic diseases, invasive procedures or screening situations, their impact on adherence varies depending on the context, how the PILs are given and the invasiveness of the intervention.
They conclude that PILs are considered to be very useful, especially for acute conditions where the patient is the first to suffer from lack of information. They propose checklists for writing, designing, using and evaluating PILs in RCTs to enable comparisons between different studies.
The full article can be read here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/hex.12487/full
Sustersic, M., Gauchet, A., Foote, A. and Bosson, J.-L. (2017), How best to use and evaluate Patient Information Leaflets given during a consultation: a systematic review of literature reviews. Health Expect, 20: 531–542. doi:10.1111/hex.12487