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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Improving prescription drug warnings to promote patient comprehension.

Wolf MS, Davis TC, Bass PF, et al. Archives of internal medicine. 2010;170:50-6.

Patients' inability to correctly interpret prescription drug instructions may result in devastating errors, such as one discussed in this AHRQ WebM&M commentary. Research on minimizing these errors has focused on mitigating the relationship between low health literacy and misunderstanding drug labels that has been demonstrated in prior research. This study found that merely simplifying the text of drug warnings improved comprehension, and addition of pictorial icons to the warnings further improved comprehension among adults with low or marginal health literacy. Prior research has also successfully used visual aids to improve medication adherence in chronic disease management. The role of health literacy in patient safety is discussed in an AHRQ WebM&M perspective and interview.