The impact of a drug information sheet on the understanding and attitude of patients about drugs

JAMA. 1986 Nov 21;256(19):2722-4.


A proposed Food and Drug Administration program to require written information with prescription drugs could cost $500 million annually; the American Medical Association has implemented a similar, voluntary program costing more than $3 million. However, the educational impact of written drug information has not been studied. We evaluated one-page drug information sheets using an objective examination. The baseline score of 71 patients was 3.9 of 6.0. Patients tested before and one day after receiving the drug sheet improved their score by +1.4. In the second phase, patients randomized to receive the drug sheet improved their score after one month by +1.1; those not given the sheet had no improvement. Changes in attitudes and incidence of reported adverse effects seemed to be random and unrelated to the information sheet. Thus, a drug information sheet may be a useful adjunct to patient education.

KIE: The educational value of drug information sheets was studied by the authors, who employed specially designed one-page medication sheets on digoxin and propranolol hydrochloride, on hospital patients and outpatients taking one or both drugs. Some patients were tested on their knowledge about their medications before and after reading the information sheets, some were tested only after reading the sheets, and some were tested and retested without access to the sheets. The scores of the patients who had read the sheets were higher than those of the patients who had not. The authors conclude that the sheets can yield a small but significant improvement in patients' understanding of the drugs they take, and that a drug information sheet "may be a useful adjunct" to a physician-initiated discussion about medication.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Attitude
  • Comprehension*
  • Drug Labeling*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Risk Assessment*