Medicine labels incorporating pictograms: do they influence understanding and adherence?

Patient Educ Couns. 2005 Jul;58(1):63-70. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2004.06.012.


The objective was to determine the influence of medicine labels incorporating pictograms on the understanding of instructions and on adherence. Eighty-seven Xhosa participants attending an outpatient clinic who had been prescribed a short course of antibiotics were randomly allocated to either a control group (41 participants given text-only labels), or an experimental group (46 participants given text + pictogram labels). All participants had a maximum of 10 years of formal schooling. Follow-up home visits were conducted after 3-5 days to assess understanding of instructions and to evaluate adherence. A high adherence of greater than 90% was found for 54% of the experimental group, compared with only 2% of the control group. Average percentages for understanding in the control and experimental groups were 70 and 95%, respectively, and average adherence was 72 and 90%, respectively. The presence of pictograms was found to contribute positively to both understanding of instructions and adherence.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Communication*
  • Comprehension*
  • Drug Labeling / methods*
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Rural Population
  • Self Administration / psychology*
  • South Africa
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Teaching Materials*