A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative research on the role and effectiveness of written information available to patients about individual medicines

Authors: Raynor DK, Blenkinsopp A, Knapp P, Grime J, Nicolson DJ, Pollock K, Dorer G, Gilbody S, Dickinson D, Maule AJ, Spoor P

Journal: Health Technology Assessment Volume: 11 Issue: 5

Publication date: February 2007

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3310/hta11050


Raynor DK, Blenkinsopp A, Knapp P, Grime J, Nicolson DJ, Pollock K, et al.A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative research on the role and effectiveness of written information available to patients about individual medicines. Health Technol Assess 2007;11(5)

Download: Citation (for this publication as a .ris file) (3.3 KB)

Journal issues* can be purchased by completing the form.

The cost of reports varies according to number of pages and postage address. The minimum cost for a copy sent to a UK address is £30.00. We will contact you on receipt of your completed form to advise you of actual cost. If you have any queries, please contact nihredit@southampton.ac.uk.

*We regret that unfortunately we are unable to supply bound print copies of Health Technology Assessment published before issue 12:31. However, PDFs are available to print from the "Downloads" tab of the issue page.


No responses have been published. If you would like to submit a response to this publication, please do so using the form below.

Comments submitted to the NIHR Journals Library are electronic letters to the editor. They enable our readers to debate issues raised in research reports published in the Journals Library. We aim to post within 2 working days all responses that contribute substantially to the topic investigated, as determined by the Editors.

Your name and affiliations will be published with your comment.

Once published, you will not have the right to remove or edit your response. The Editors may add, remove, or edit comments at their absolute discretion.

Post your response



Middle Initial

Occupation / Job title

Affiliation / Employer



Other authors

For example, if you are responding as a team or group. Please ensure you include full names and separate these using commas

Statement of competing interests

We believe that readers should be aware of any competing interests (conflicts of interest).

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) define competing interests as including: financial relationships with industry (for example through employment, consultancies, stock, ownership, honoraria, and expert testimony), either directly or through immediate family; personal relationships; academic competition; and intellectual passion.

If yes, provide details below:

Enter response title

Enter response message


Security key

Regenerate security key

By submitting your response, you are stating that you agree to the terms & conditions

The full text of this issue is available as a PDF document from the Downloads section on this page.



To establish the role and value of written information available to patients about individual medicines from the perspective of patients, carers and professionals. To determine how effective this information is in improving patients' knowledge and understanding of treatment and health outcomes.

Data sources

Electronic databases searched to late 2004, experts in information design, and stakeholder workshops (including patients and patient organisations).

Review methods

Data from selected studies were tabulated and the results were qualitatively synthesised along with findings from the information design and stakeholder workshop strands.


Most people do not value the written information they receive. They had concerns about the use of complex language and poor visual presentation and in most cases the research showed that the information did not increase knowledge. The research showed that patients valued written information that was tailored to their individual circumstances and illness, and that contained a balance of harm and benefit information. Most patients wanted to know about any adverse effects that could arise. Patients require information to help decision-making about whether to take a medicine or not and (once taking a medicine) with ongoing decisions about the management of the medicine and interpreting symptoms. Patients did not want written information to be a substitute for spoken information from their prescriber. While not everyone wanted written information, those who did wanted sufficient detail to meet their need. Some health professionals thought that written information for patients should be brief and simple, with concerns about providing side-effect information. They saw increasing compliance as a prime function, in contrast to patients who saw an informed decision not to take a medicine as an acceptable outcome.


The combination of a quantitative and qualitative review, an exploration of best practice in information design, plus the input of patients at stakeholder workshops, allowed this review to look at all perspectives. There is a gap between currently provided leaflets and information which patients would value and find more useful. The challenge is to develop methods of provision flexible enough to allow uptake of varying amounts and types of information, depending on needs at different times in an illness. This review has identified a number of areas where future research could be improved in terms of the robustness of its design and conduct, and the use of patient-focused outcomes. The scope for this research includes determining the content, delivery and layout of statutory leaflets that best meet patients' needs, and providing individualised information, which includes both benefit and harm information. In particular, studies of the effectiveness and role and value of Internet-based medicines information are needed.

Share this page

Email this page
Publication updates

If you would like to receive information on publications and the latest news, click below to sign up.