Recall of medical advice: comprehensibility and specificity

Br J Soc Clin Psychol. 1975 Feb;14(1):55-62. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8260.1975.tb00149.x.


Two laboratory experiments are described in which volunteer subjects read advice on how to develop self-control over eating behaviour. Formulating the communications in terms of specific instructions rather than general rules and the use of simple language as determined by a readability formula led to increased recall of the advice. These findings were confirmed in a naturalistic setting in which the same material was presented orally to patients receiving treatment for obesity. The results of these investigations are believed to have implications for improving communications between doctors and their patients and possibly for increasing the degree to which patients comply with medical recommendations.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Auditory Perception
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Language
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Mental Recall*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Reading
  • Verbal Behavior*