In our increasingly digital world, some may think that printed medical brochures have outlived their usefulness. But research shows that even in today’s digital age, printed materials remain valuable educational tools for healthcare providers.
According to data cited by the EPA, 67.4 tons of paper and paperboard municipal solid waste were generated in 2018, of which 48 million tons were recycled—that’s a recycling rate of 68.2%, the highest of any type of municipal solid waste.
Still, with the ability to download just about anything off the internet, are items such as printed pamphlets and brochures still relevant for medical providers and patients? Here’s what the research says.
Brochures For Medical Providers
Results of a study published in Advances in Therapy pointed to the utility of brochures among healthcare providers (HCPs). Researchers sent a brochure to 565 participants about a target medicine, which 95% of the HCPs had already prescribed.
In total, 88 HCPs received the brochure, and 95.5% of these individuals at least skimmed it for main points. The HCPs were then given a quiz, with a passing grade of 4 out of 5 questions correct. Of those test takers who received the brochure, 93.2% passed, vs 57.6% of those who did not receive the brochure.
The study concluded that brochures are useful communication tools and could increase HCP understanding of rare and important adverse events.
In a Plos One systematic review and meta-analysis of 12 studies involving mostly nurses and residents, the investigators examined the impact of various pharmacist-led educational programs on medication-error rates.
Multiple studies showed that brochures or training activities improved the knowledge and skills of HCPS, with four studies indicating a decrease in medication-error rates due to printed materials.
“Such brochures may be of particular use as part of risk minimization strategies in rapidly changing fields such as oncology, where HCPs need to deal with increasing[ly] complex medicines and protocols to treat cancers.”
— Authors, Advances in Therapy
Patient Education Pamphlets
In an extensive review published in Health Expectations, researchers found that in all clinical situations, patient-information leaflets (PILS) improved patient knowledge and satisfaction. With respect to acute treatments, the pamphlets also enhanced adherence.
“PILs are considered to be very useful, especially for acute conditions where the patient is the first to suffer from lack of information,” they wrote.
Designing Your Brochures
Well-designed brochures can help to accomplish their objectives, whether the information is intended for patients, clinicians, or other audiences. Brochures can even be used to market medical practices.
Here are some tips for designing brochures intended for patients. Alexander Clark Printing can help you in the process when developing brochures.
- Provide guidance on “what to do,” including lifestyle recommendations
- Offer directions on missed doses
- Use generic and not brand names to avoid sounding promotional
- Make sure the brochure speaks to the reader and is targeted and culturally appropriate
- Ensure it is logical and organized; avoid information overload in the form of busy figures or illustrations
- Use % sign for frequencies, especially for risks
- Test a draft with at least two physician colleagues and two patient users
- Make the brochure available online
We suggest providing sources for your information. Include the author of the brochure and date of publication. And be sure to regularly update the material and include dates of update with each new version.
When designing a brochure for your own practice, we recommend the following: know your audience (eg, patients, referring physicians); decide how you will distribute the brochure (handouts vs mailings); and ensure that the information included is clear and accurate.
- Even in the digital age, research shows that printed brochures for healthcare providers (HCPs) improve knowledge of rare and important adverse events and help reduce medication errors.
- Patient education pamphlets can help people better understand their medical conditions. They can also help improve adherence with acute treatments.
- The design of a patient brochure must be carefully considered, with new brochures tested among patients and other physicians.
What this means for you
Even in this digital age, brochures remain a useful tool to both HCP’s and patients. HCP’s benefit by reviewing brochures that can help decrease the risk for medical errors and improve their understanding of adverse events. Patients find brochures helpful, too, as the information can improve their knowledge of their illness and enhance their adherence to acute treatments. Evidence-based guidance exists on how to best develop brochures for the audience you are trying to reach.