Exploring Language Availability, Understandability, and Readability of Patient Medication Information




Wang, Amelie

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University of Victoria


Many Canadians use prescription medications and need information to support informed decision making as well as maximizing the benefits and minimizing potential harms of taking medications. Patient Medication Information (PMI)—the paper leaflets provided with prescriptions—helps disseminate information. However, the availability of PMI in a consumer’s preferred language and how it is written can impact its effectiveness. Thus, this study explored 1) the availability of PMI in English, French, and Mandarin and 2) the patient-centredness of PMI in terms of its understandability and readability. PMI was available in English from all five chosen pharmacies. However, only two pharmacies provided PMI in French, and none offered it in Mandarin. For the PMI obtained, the French PMI was easier to read and understand than the English PMI. There were differences within the English PMI depending on the pharmacy source, demonstrating three areas of improvement that limit PMI’s value to the public. First, PMI should be standardized so that people receive the same information regardless of the pharmacy they use. Second, the content of PMI could be improved to make it easier for people to read and understand. Third, PMI in a person’s preferred language should be easy to obtain from pharmacies.



Patient Medication Information (PMI), language barriers, patient-centredness