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Published on 01 July 2011
New patient booklets launched
Our 90-plus patient information booklets and drug leaflets have been re-written and updated. Michelle Grainger explains the reasons for the changes.
What was the rationale for updating the booklets?
We had to change all the booklets after the charity rebranded in March 2010, so the content was reviewed at the same time to bring them all up to date. All the text was rewritten as part of the rebranding process, and they were given a more contemporary look and style in line with our new brand. We also wanted to add some new elements to make it easy for patients to read, understand and identify with, as it is an important part of our mission to improve the lives of people with arthritis by providing quality, up-to-date and accessible information. We cover topics relating to types of conditions, therapies, surgery, living with arthritis, and young people and arthritis.
How different are the new booklets?
- They are full colour and full-colour photography has been used for the first time, including pictures of symptoms and 3D illustrations, to help explain things better.
- They have changed format to A5 so they are easier to handle and the information can be displayed in a much more effective way.
- The content and headings have been standardised, following an easy to understand Q&A format, to help make it easier to find the relevant information.
- They all include an at-a-glance section for easy reference, which also makes the most important points easily digestible.
- Key messages and important points are highlighted throughout the booklets.
- More information is included about our research activity and where applicable it mentions specific projects we are funding.
How did you go about updating them?
We conducted some face-to-face research with patients, which supported the need for high-quality arthritis information that is relevant, straightforward and authoritative. Patients identified the need to strike a balance between medical texts which can be weighty, technical and academic, and leaflets which could be seen as too flimsy and poorly produced, making patients feel they were not taken seriously. We think we’ve got the balance right, and that our booklets are authoritative and based on evidence of best practice but are also easy to read. Medical professionals have also been involved in the rewriting and reviewing of all the text to ensure we have the latest information in the booklets.
How are the booklets produced?
The booklets go through a rigorous process, which includes review by a number of medical professionals including doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and surgeons to ensure quality, currency and medical accuracy. They are also reviewed by members of the public and any relevant societies, and the production is overseen by a medical expert in the field. They are then re-written by an editor to make it easy for people to understand, and the actual proofs are tested again by members of the public to ensure the text and design both work.
How did you get over the perennial problem of balance; some people think they’re too upbeat, others that they overplay the severity of the condition.
This is a very difficult thing to get right, but it is important for us to show what can be possible and to remain optimistic, while also pointing out the serious nature of some of the conditions. The content focuses on covering all the possibilities and options, to give the reader all the essential initial information. The hope is that they can then search for more information on areas they want to or consult with their healthcare team.
What is happening with patient information on the website?
The PDFs are being uploaded as we speak and the new versions are being adapted for the website and will be posted as they are completed over the next few weeks. We are also reviewing the way they are represented on the website so they are as user-friendly and accessible as possible.
Why have line drawings been replaced by photos?
The line drawings have been replaced by photos when a photo is more descriptive, although line drawings do still appear where we feel it is easier to understand. The introduction of the photos has helped to create a more contemporary feel overall and has helped to bring them to life.
Have you had any feedback so far?
So far we have received some really great feedback. We act on all feedback we receive, whether from the public or health professionals, to ensure it is as good as it can be, so we are happy to hear your thoughts, good or bad.
Are there plans for any new titles?
We want to continue to work on the range to provide the best information source we can to patients and the public and welcome any suggestions. We are also working on some shorter articles that will start to appear on our website over the coming months, giving information on topics we are being asked about.