Readability of the South African patient package insert (PPI)

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 3
  • Abstract:

    Although medication is nowadays issued with a package insert containing vital medication information, not everyone reads/understands the medication information contained in the package insert. This has been proven by European and American research, pointing to, amongst other factors, the readability of these documents. Readability difficulty often translates to communication barriers which, in this case, make the accessibility of the health message contained in the PPI difficult. This article investigated the South African situation regarding the readability of PPIs by means of Flesch and Fry readability assessments and a correlation of the results by means of correlation coefficients. The results indicate that for both languages, English and Afrikaans, the texts require at least a tertiary reading ability, which is rare in the broader South African community. This means that the readability of these texts is at present a communication barrier to vital health information a patient needs when taking medication. Although these results only refer to texts variables, one must also realise that reader variables have an important influence on the reading of the material. Yet, by adapting the readability level of these documents, one can already start the process of making the health communication message clearer and more accessible to the South African patient.