Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews From the Frontline

Patient leaflets are worthless

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 12 December 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8336
  1. Des Spence, general practitioner, Glasgow

In the 1990s our offices were crammed with stuff: plastic joints, stress balls, wall clocks, and broken lamps—nobody was seemingly able to resist pharma’s freebie tat, however useless. I also had a pile of textbooks but most clinical knowledge remained in the head of the local specialist. But the greatest space culprit was the patient leaflets, deemed the “must have” for the empowerment of patients. Filing cabinets were jammed closed with leaflets for everything, spewing across the desks and on to the floor.

Research suggested that patients retained nothing that they were …

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