The Accessibility of patient information leaflets concerning cervical cancer - the effect of high leaflet readability level and the reader's level of education
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Research suggests that many Patient Information Leaflets are written at too high a level for the population to understand. This study took 2 leaflets on Cervical Cancer, with their readability measured using 3 different formulae, to reveal they were of differing difficulty, and presented them to 2 groups of participants – a student and a non-student group. Participants were given a questionnaire containing 4 knowledge questions concerning cervical cancer. They were then given one of the leaflets to read, and asked to complete a second questionnaire, designed to assess the participants’ ‘Increase in Knowledge’ and the ‘Perceived Usefulness’ of the leaflet. Participants were also asked about cervical cancer symptoms after reading the leaflet. Results showed that increasing knowledge showed a main effect dependent on the occupation group (F (1: 88) = 10.529, p = .002), and that there was also an interaction between occupation and leaflet (F (1, 88) = 9.844, p = .002), revealing that the student group reading Leaflet B showed the greatest understanding. Concerning participants’ perception of the leaflet’s usefulness, there was a significant main effect for the leaflet (F (1, 88) = 17.001, p = .000), showing again that Leaflet B was the preferred option. Knowledge of symptoms also showed a main effect for the leaflet (F (1: 88) = 82.512, p =.000), with a significant interaction between leaflet and occupation (F (1, 88) = 11.452, p=0.001), which showed student’s reading Leaflet B performed to the highest level. These results confirmed suggestions that health leaflets with too high a reading level for the general population to understand exist, and that high readability impacts of the populations understanding of the information.