"User-testing" as a method for testing the fitness-for-purpose of written medicine information

Patient Educ Couns. 2011 Jun;83(3):404-10. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2011.03.016. Epub 2011 May 6.


Objective: Written medicine information is essential to support spoken information from pharmacists, but must be fit-for-purpose. This study applied "user testing" to the booklet supplied to UK patients taking anticoagulant medicines.

Methods: "User testing" uses mixed-methods, applied iteratively, to assess document performance - can people find and understand key points of information through a questionnaire and short semi-structured interview. The booklet was tested in 3 rounds of 10 people. After each round it was revised according to participants' responses, and re-tested.

Results: The first round questionnaire identified problems with 6/18 information points (booklet purpose; other information; what affected daily doses; effect of ibuprofen; tablet colour; drinking alcohol); interviews raised further issues. The booklet was revised and, in the second testing round, one problem identified (changing doses of other medicines); the interviews raised fewer issues. After further re-wording and re-design, a third round showed all questions found and understood by at least 8/10 participants.

Conclusion: User testing assesses whether people can find and understand key information and can be applied using small numbers of participants. Application to medicine information can markedly improve performance.

Practice implications: Information producers should consider user testing to ensure documents are 'fit for purpose' in informing patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anticoagulants* / therapeutic use
  • Communication
  • Comprehension
  • Consumer Health Information / methods*
  • Consumer Health Information / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pamphlets*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards*
  • Pharmacists
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Writing


  • Anticoagulants