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Patient information leaflets — patients’ comprehension of information about interactions and contraindications

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To determine how well patients could correctly recognize and comprehend the various information items on patient information leaflets, and to explore the reasons underlying poor comprehensibility.


Leaflets from 30 randomly selected, commonly prescribed medicines were examined by experts using protocols to evaluate leaflet layout, language and content. The same leaflets were also evaluated by patients who had their medicines dispensed at 24 randomly selected Swedish pharmacies. A questionnaire was used for the patients’ examination.


The results showed that most information on the leaflets is sound and is well comprehended by the patients. For two information items regarding ’risks of interactions’ and ’contraindications’ the patient scores were low, indicating poor comprehensibility.


Leaflets with low scores on warnings of interactions and contraindications were found to deliver more complex messages to older patients as compared to leaflets with high scores for these items.

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Correspondence to J. Lars G. Nilsson.

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Gustafsson, J., Kälvemark, S., Nilsson, G. et al. Patient information leaflets — patients’ comprehension of information about interactions and contraindications. Pharm World Sci 27, 35–40 (2005).

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