Letters

Partnership with patients

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7155.413a (Published 08 August 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:413

Health professionals need to identify how much information patients want

  1. Alison Blenkinsopp, Director of education and research,
  2. James Bashford, General practitioner,
  3. David Dickinson, Patient information designer and editor
  1. Department of Medicines Management, Keele University, Keele, Stafforshire ST5 5BG
  2. London SW17 7QW
  3. Drug Information Centre, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester LE1 5WW

    EDITOR—In outlining the implications for professionals of the rise of “healthcare consumers” Richards emphasises two elements that are necessary for partnership: information of better quality and greater involvement for patients in decisions.1 In both cases, however, true partnership goes deeper still. Information needs to be designed with the help of patients, and the extent of involvement in decisions needs to be tailored to the individual patient.

    Health professionals and patients have different priorities for information about drug treatment.2 Contrary to the beliefs of some health professionals, patients are keen to know more about possible side effects, although we need a better understanding of the best way to present this information. Information may be too complex or theoretical for patients to follow. The language may be wrongly pitched. When researchers in the United States reviewed literature on systemic lupus erythematosus they found that 89% of materials were too complex for half their patients.3 The advice …

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