Program Session

3 - Patient Education Materials: Assessing Compliance with Health Literacy Standards

Sunday, May 28
3:15 PM - 3:20 PM
Room: 612

Objectives: Education materials help patients understand and comply with self-care recommendations, thus avoiding problems that delay recovery or require additional healthcare intervention. This project evaluated the quality of a sample of patient education materials used at a large academic medical center.

Methods: In collaboration with leadership of the patient education committee of a large academic medical center, a library science student obtained educational materials distributed to patients about self-care activities for burns, tracheostomy, and peripherally-inserted central catheters. Data about each item was abstracted into Libre Office, including items from the Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT). PEMAT understandability and actionability scores were calculated using Microsoft Excel to analyze variations in the quality of patient education materials overall and by the following characteristics: (1) source (health system staff – group process, a national health education vendor, and health system staff – individual post-visit summary), (2) health condition, and (3) care setting where deployed (inpatient, outpatient, home health).

Results: Thirteen patient education materials from inpatient, outpatient, and home health settings were assessed. PEMAT scores for understandability and actionability were associated with the presence of visual aids and document source, variables that were also correlated with each other. Materials created by system staff using a group process and informed by assessment of patient education needs had higher PEMAT scores than those from an external vendor or generated by individual clinicians. Materials created by system staff were also more likely to contain visual aids. The two highest scoring materials were also the longest in length, each more than 10 pages.

Conclusion: Additional research is necessary to tease out the effect of visual aids and source on the quality of patient education materials. The PEMAT is a useful tool for assessing patient education materials. However, the PEMAT does not account for the length of patient education materials and users may not stay engaged with longer documents to fully benefit from the information presented. As health care providers have recently adopted patient education from novel sources to meet requirements of meaningful use, it is important to ensure that these materials effectively inform patients about self-care activities for improvement and maintenance of health. In addition, this project demonstrates how a library student can conduct a pilot project with clinical staff to test out a process for evaluating patient education materials. 

Keywords: patient education, health literacy, content analysis, self-care

Program Session

Erica R. Brody

MSLS Student
School of Information & Library Science
Durham, North Carolina

After almost 20 years as an MPH-credentialed health sciences researcher, Erica Brody recently received her MSLS from the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Erica plans to complete an internship with the Research & Education group at the Duke University Medical Center Library in May 2017 and is seeking permanent employment providing user education and research support at a health sciences library. In her spare time, Erica likes yoga, hiking, cycling, knitting, and reading fiction.


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3 - Patient Education Materials: Assessing Compliance with Health Literacy Standards

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