Understanding communication of health information: a lesson in health literacy for junior medical and physiotherapy students

Healthcare professional students should be engaged in best practice regarding communication with patients, including using good quality patient information leaflets (PILs) on health behaviours. A cross-sectional survey of 337 junior medical and physiotherapy students investigated the readability, health psychology theory content, and quality and reliability ratings of nine international PILs on smoking. Estimates of readability, theory content and quality/reliability ratings varied considerably across PILs. Importantly, additional theory-based content, as proposed by students, had no detrimental effect on readability scores. Results are discussed with regard to their potential for improving interactions between future healthcare providers and service users.