Pharmacy intervention for patients with limited literacy evokes positive responses from patients and pharmacists

Research Activities, November 2010, No. 363

Over 90 million Americans have low health literacy, meaning that they struggle to understand and act on health information, such as that provided on prescription drug labels and pharmacy information leaflets. Previous research has shown that reminder telephone calls and patient education materials, coupled with verbal counseling, may improve medication adherence. A new study shows that this type of approach is also well received by pharmacists and patients.

Researchers from Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health examined reactions to a Pharmacy Intervention for Limited Literacy (PILL) intervention that included an automated telephone reminder system, a computer-generated illustrated medication guide, and pharmacist training in clear health care communications. They gathered responses to the intervention by interviewing the 4 participating pharmacists and conducting 4 focus groups consisting of 23 predominantly poor patients from 3 outpatient pharmacies of an inner-city health system in Atlanta. Two focus groups were held 1 month after the intervention began and two focus groups were held at the conclusion of the 6-month PILL study.

Results showed the reactions by both patients and pharmacists were generally positive. Most pharmacy patients experienced few difficulties with the intervention. The illustrated medication guide, known as the PictureRx, received the most comments and was praised for its design and usefulness. The automated telephone reminder, which presented initial technological challenges, was also well-received by patients. Overall, the key elements leading to positive reactions were ease of comprehension, accessibility, and personalization to the special needs of the target population. The pharmacists were pleased with the communications skills training. Also, after some early glitches with the PictureRx, they felt it was easy to use and provided an important counseling tool for their patients. This study was partly supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Contract No. 290-00-0011).

See "A qualitative evaluation of a health literacy intervention to improve medication adherence for underserved pharmacy patients," by Sarah C. Blake, M.A., Karen McMorris, and Kara L. Jacobson, M.P.H., in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 21(2), pp. 559-567.

Current as of November 2010
Internet Citation: Pharmacy intervention for patients with limited literacy evokes positive responses from patients and pharmacists: Research Activities, November 2010, No. 363. November 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.