Comparing the effectiveness of video and written material for improving knowledge among sleep disorders clinic patients with limited literacy skills

South Med J. 2000 Mar;93(3):297-304.


Background: Health care professionals often use written material or video recordings to teach their patients without knowing which is more effective for comprehension of the information.

Methods: Patients watched either an instructional videotape about sleep apnea or read a newly designed brochure, then responded to a structured questionnaire containing 11 knowledge-based questions and 1 open-ended question (requesting suggestions for improvement of the brochure or videotape).

Results: Mean reported educational level was grade 12, and mean reading level was between grade 7 and 8. Using video significantly improved only two areas of knowledge for low-level (below grade 8) readers: defining sleep apnea (66% vs 43%) and identifying what continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) does for the patient (94% vs 78%). Patients requested material with more diverse cultural representation, more information on treatment and outcomes, and fewer polysyllabic words.

Conclusions: Emphasis on diagnosis and treatment, explained using simple words, should be reflected in the content of patient education brochures or videos. Providing information by video alone may have limited benefits.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cognition
  • Educational Measurement
  • Educational Status*
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pamphlets*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes* / diagnosis
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes* / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Teaching / methods*
  • Videotape Recording*