PIL of the Month – a Study of Best Practice in Patient Information Leaflets

Authors

  • Karen Korning Zethsen Aarhus School of Business, University of Aarhus
  • Inger Askehave Aalborg University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/japl.v7i1.97

Keywords:

patient information leaflets, best practice, user-friendliness, patient-centeredness

Abstract

Patient empowerment has become increasingly important within the health sector and an important patient information document like the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) has been the subject of an ongoing discussion for more than a decade. The PIL has often been heavily criticized for its lack of userfriendliness in spite of legal (EU) requirements that the PIL be easy to read, understand, and act upon. In the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has introduced a new best-practice initiative called the PIL of the month, the aim of which is to further the improvement of the userfriendliness of PILs. This initiative focuses on positive aspects of PILs, however, the published quality criteria on which the selection builds hardly mention linguistic features at all. We have analyzed a corpus consisting of 10 PILs of the month in order to find out whether the PILs of the month constitute best-practice examples of userfriendliness from a linguistic point of view and if so how? In general we found many positive features and improvements on more traditional solutions, though we also still found many features which have a negative impact on userfriendliness. Only one leaflet could be said to constitute a real best-practice example, six leaflets were a mixture of positive and negative features, whereas three leaflets were very far from constituting best practice from a linguistic point of view.

Author Biographies

Karen Korning Zethsen, Aarhus School of Business, University of Aarhus

Karen Korning Zethsen, PhD, is professor in Translation Studies and Head of the Research Group for Translation and Interpreting at the Aarhus School of Business, University of Aarhus, Denmark. Her primary research interests include translation studies, expert-lay communication and lexical semantics. She has published numerous articles within her fields of interest in journals such as Target, the Translator, Meta, TTR, JoSTrans, Document Design, Text & Talk and The Journal of Pragmatics. Address for correspondence: Department of Language and Business Communication, Aarhus School of Business, University of Aarhus, Fuglesangs Allé 4, 8210 Aarhus V, Denmark. Email: [email protected]

Inger Askehave, Aalborg University

Inger Askehave, Ph.D., is professor in Professional Communication and Pro-Vice- Chancellor at Aalborg University, Denmark. Her primary research interests include expert–lay communication, PR and business communication, and organizational communication. She has published several articles on genre theory, language and discourse, translation, business communication, and expert–lay communication in journals such as Applied Linguistics, Text & Talk, Perspectives, Document Design, Discourse Studies and Discourse & Society. Address for correspondence: University of Aalborg, Fredrik Bajers Vej 5, 9220 Aalborg Ø, Denmark. Email: [email protected] dk

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Published

2011-03-27

How to Cite

Zethsen, K. K., & Askehave, I. (2011). PIL of the Month – a Study of Best Practice in Patient Information Leaflets. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, 7(1), 97–120. https://doi.org/10.1558/japl.v7i1.97

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Articles