The optimal text structure in a patient information leaflet Evaluation of the current and revised text structure in a patient information leaflet to increase findability of information.
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There is much discussion about how the structure in a patient information leaflet should be. This research is conducted to compare the revised text structure, as proposed by Pander Maat and Lentz (2011), with a current text structure of a patient information leaflet (PIL). The structure in which the information is represented in a PIL is of great importance. Readers often experience difficulties with the readability and usability of PILs. This study can contribute in improving the text structure in a patient information leaflet so that it is easier for patients to locate correct information in a PIL. We focussed mainly on the grouping of topics, the presentation of the information and the phrasing of the headings. The outcome of this study has demonstrated the strengths and weaknesses of both the revised and current PIL. First we looked at the influence of the text structure (current and revised) on the findability of the information in a PIL. Secondly we examined the participant’s perception on the current and revised PIL. We expected that the revised text structure could help to improve the findability and appreciation of the leaflet but also the compatibility between the PILs structure and the readers’ medication schema. The findability scores have been measured on the number of correct locations on scenario questions. The perception was measured by how participants appreciated and evaluated these text structures. The objective was to find out whether the revised text structure has a positive effect on the findability and perception of the PIL. The outcome of this study demonstrates the strengths and weaknesses of both the revised and current PIL. The effect of a PIL with the revised text structure as opposed to a current text structure on the user’s ability to find the information is as follows: whereas the main structure was better in the revised text structure, the quality of the subheadings are better in the current text structure. The expectation that a PIL with a revised text structure results in better findability of information in a patient information leaflet than a PIL with a current text structure is partly confirmed because the manipulation of the main headings is successful. At the other hand the quality of subheadings is less profitable. The perception and appreciation of the organisation of the information, wording and overall design was slightly higher for the revised PIL. The expectation that a PIL with the revised text structure is perceived in a more positive way than a PIL with a current text structure receives some support. Further research is essential to explore the positive aspects of both current and revised PIL to optimize the text structure in a patient information leaflet. These results can be a guideline for future research intended to improve the readability of patient information leaflets.