Aims of the study: To formulate and evaluate an information leaflet for patients using patient-controlled analgesia (PCA), incorporating information thought to be important by patients.
Rationale: The benefit of current information leaflets, written by professionals, has not been studied and their value to patients is unknown.
Background: Previous studies have shown that information leaflets were poorly designed and written in language too difficult for patients to understand.
Research methods: Seven focus groups were conducted to establish what information patients wanted to know about PCA. This information was incorporated into a new information leaflet. One hundred patients were randomized to receive either the new leaflet or the old leaflet in current use. A questionnaire was used to establish whether the new leaflet was more clear and informative than the old one.
Results: Patients wanted to know that the drug used in PCA was morphine. They wanted more information about side-effects, needed to be reassured that it was safe, and that they could not overdose or become addicted. They wanted detailed instructions and diagrams about the technique. The questionnaire study established that the new leaflet was clearer and more informative.
Conclusion: Patients' contribution led to major change, producing a leaflet which was clearer, more attractive, more informative and which proved more satisfactory to patients.