Tools used to evaluate written medicine and health information: document and user perspectives

Health Educ Behav. 2011 Aug;38(4):389-403. doi: 10.1177/1090198110379576. Epub 2011 Apr 13.


This study aims to identify and review tools used to evaluate consumer-oriented written medicine (WMI) and health (WHI) information from a document and user perspective. Articles that met the following inclusion criteria were reviewed: studies evaluating readability, presentation, suitability, quality of WMI/WHI. A total of 152 articles were identified, of which 64 satisfied the inclusion criteria. Fifty-nine original studies used evaluation tools and 5 reviewed a specific group of tools. Sixteen detailed the development or validation of an instrument. Fifteen studies evaluated WMI and 28 evaluated WHI. Twenty-three evaluation instruments were identified. Of the seven readability tests, SMOG was predominantly used (12 of 43 studies). Eight tools measured health literacy, with REALM being the most popular instrument (7 of 43). SAM was the most commonly used presentation tool (12 of 43 studies). Many tools are available to evaluate WMI and WHI. However, the majority are researcher focused. Most evaluate readability and presentation, revealing a gap in valid and reliable tools for assessing quality of information, and those that can be used by consumers.

MeSH terms

  • Comprehension*
  • Drug Labeling / methods*
  • Health Literacy
  • Humans
  • Pamphlets*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Writing


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations