Guides & Reports

Pile of magazines

To support the creation and provision of high quality and accessible health information, PIF has produced a range of:

They cover key topics in health information and support, and are free to download.

Quick Guides & Factsheets

In-depth Guides


Guide to Personal Health Records: learning from voices of experience (January 2017)

pif-phr-guide-2017This guide is for anyone who would like to find out about Personal Health Records (PHRs).

It shares the experiences of people who have first-hand experience of developing or using Personal Health Records.

It starts by exploring what sorts of PHRs are available and who might want them.Then we discuss aspects of PHRs that people highlighted as being the most important, concluding with a checklist of key things to consider.

You can download the guide here: pif-phr-guide-2017-v2

The press release for the report can be read here:


Guide to Producing Health Information for Children and Young People (July 2014)

PiF Children's Guide [Cover] [Medium]

This resource aims to help anyone who communicates with children and young people about their health improve what they do, and shares practical advice as well as examples of current best practice in the field.

The guide focuses on the practical aspects of creating good health information, including involving children, choosing the right format, writing for children and tackling sensitive issues.

It covers use of stories and play, social media and apps, how and when to give information, use of schools and the Internet as channels and communications for children with disabilities and special needs.

Experts from child psychiatry, leading children’s health charities, Great Ormond Street Hospital, NHS England and children’s literature have all contributed to the guide.

The Guide is free to download here:  PiF-Guide Producing Health Information-Children and Young People-2014

Guide to Health Records Access (July 2013)

A guide to health records access cover

This Guide is about shared Personal Health Records (PHRs) – an area which has the potential to facilitate a step change to enable individuals to manage their care, and make decisions about their health.

This guide is aimed at practitioners, managers and patient organisations in health and social care in the UK. It gives a vision for the future of Personal Health Records, and an understanding of some of the challenges and barriers which must be overcome in order to realise their full potential. It points to solutions to these barriers and is, in effect, a call to action.

The Guide brings together the perspectives of policy makers, clinicians, suppliers and patients themselves. Throughout the text, case studies illustrate the current status of records access around the UK and the potential for the future.

  • Chapter 1 defines PHRs and explains the different levels of access, patient co-production and cross-organisational integration which are possible. It sets PHRs in the context of the development of records access in the UK and the newly launched Information Strategy for England.
  • Chapter 2 describes the patient and citizen perspective on PHRs. This includes the potential benefits for patients and the public but also some of the risks, such as concerns about safety, and widening health inequalities.
  • Chapter 3 discusses PHRs from the health and social care professional perspective. It explains some of the concerns about PHRs which have been barriers to their widespread uptake. It counters these with some of the benefits seen when PHRs are implemented in practice.
  • Chapter 4 describes the benefits of PHRs from the commissioner and health system perspective. It summarises what steps towards records access are included in the new Information Strategy for England, but also highlights important issues still to be tackled by all four UK health systems in order to give PHRs a chance to realise their full potential.
  • Finally, there is a chapter listing useful resources and organisations, and a glossary of terms.

The Guide is free to download here:  PIF Guide-Health Records Access-2013

Guide to Appraising Health Information (2010)

**Please note the content of this guide has been updated and is now available on the PIF website here (March 2016)**

This 2010 guide to appraising health information is about assessing the quality of information, and the processes used to develop it. The guide is for people and organisations that produce health information for patients and the public. It can be used by any size of organisation, in any sector.

The guide is split into a number of chapters that provide a comprehensive look at the subject.

  • Chapter One puts quality and appraisal into context, exploring why quality is important and what it means in the world of consumer health information. There is information about the benefits of high quality information, for both users and producers, and some of the background that explains why quality has become a more prominent issue. Finally there is a look at general methods of appraisal.
  • Chapter Two explores the appraisal of the processes used to develop consumer health information. This includes a broad look at tools that assess information development processes, the requirements of appraisal in the NHS and the Information Standard scheme that operates in England.
  • Chapter Three is about the tools available to information producers to help them appraise individual information resources. This includes tools for printed and online information, award schemes, guidelines and readability tools.
  • Chapter Four looks at appraisal for information users and explores the challenges of finding quality information, including searching the Internet. Tools for users are discussed, as are the pros and cons of using them.
  • Finally, there are four appendices that contain information on background subjects such as policy, the development of appraisal and other important schemes.

The Guide is free to download here: PIF Guide-Appraising Health Information-2010

PIF Reports

PPIJ Summary Report May 2017Perfect Patient Information Journey: Phase 1 Report (2017)

This report identifies good practice principles to ensure the provision of high quality information for people with long-term conditions.

It was developed through  talking to patients, healthcare professionals and commissioners, and conducting research on previous efforts to embed information into patient pathways.

It identifies 10  key themes for improving the provision of health information for people with long term conditions, and makes recommendations for health services and commissioners.

You can read the full report here:

Perfect Patient Information Journey: Phase 1 Report

Is-Knowledge-Power-image-11-760x360Is Knowledge Power? (2015)

In March 2015 PIF and health policy consultancy MHP Health published in a new report, ‘Is knowledge power? Using information and support to empower patients’. It reveals that a fifth of patients disagree that they have enough information to feel confident in discussing decisions about their own treatment with their doctor.

Research was conducted to determine the progress and prospects for empowering patients through information, central to current NHS policy. This is particularly relevant when improved self-management by people with long-term conditions is seen as a key driver of sustainability for the NHS.

A nationally-representative sample of 6,000 people, including 1,567 people with long-term conditions were surveyed as part of the research. Based on the poll findings, the report estimates that in England:

  • 36% of patients with a long-term condition, over 5.5 million people, disagree that they were given helpful information about their condition when they were first diagnosed
    21% of patients, representing over 3.2 million people, disagree that they have enough information to feel confident in discussing decisions about their care with their doctor
    29% of patients, over 4.4 million people, feel that their views are not taken seriously by their doctor

You can read the full report including PIF and MHP’s recommendations for actions here:

Is knowledge power. Using information and support to empower patients.


MFull Report - cover [small]aking the Case for Information (2013)

Published in May 2013, the Case for Information report brings together the evidence for investing in high quality information for patients and the public.

The report describes the main findings and concludes that  there are good business reasons to justify the need for commissioners and providers to invest more resource (time, money and training) in health information provision and support.

The evidence shows that providing high quality health information is beneficial. It has a positive impact on service utilisation and health costs, patients’ experience of healthcare and patients’ health behaviour and status.

Providing access to quality health information and support is crucial to unlocking what has been termed the ‘blockbuster drug’ of patient engagement. Patient engagement is vital to help people manage their health, make informed decisions about their healthcare, and mitigate financial pressure on the health service.

Evidence from the report points to the most effective ways of providing consumer health information and maximising its impacts, including information tailored to the individual which addresses health literacy needs and which is supported by health or information professionals.

PiF is therefore calling on policy makers and commissioners to take action to make sure patient information is an integral part of their approach to providing high quality patient-centred care by:

The report and associated briefings are all FREE to download.

PiF Case for Information – Executive Summary
PiF Case for Information – Full Report

PiF Case for Information – Briefing for Clinicians
PiF Case for Information – Briefing for Health Information Specialists
PiF Case for Information – Briefing for Commissioners

Case for Information Evaluation July 2014


HL coverHealth Literacy Survey (2013)

Published in June 2013, this report summarises the findings of a survey PIF conducted among information producers which sought to gain insight into health literacy from the information producer perspective; exploring whether information producers know what it means and how important they think it is; what specific strategies they have to address the needs of people with low health literacy and how these strategies are implemented.

Click here to read the report: PiF-Health-Literacy-Report-WEB-NEW-FINAL