The current study assessed the effect of patient-centered label (PCL) instructions on comprehension of prescription drug use compared to standard instructions.
94 adult patients recruited from an urban outpatient clinic in Cork, Ireland were each randomly assigned to receive: 1) standard prescription instructions written as times per day (once, twice, three times per day) [usual care], 2) PCL instructions that specify explicit timing with standard intervals (morning, noon, evening, bedtime) or with mealtime anchors ( breakfast, lunch or dinner) [ both PCL], or 3) PCL instructions with a graphic aid to visually depict dose and timing of the medication [PCL + Graphic]. The outcome was correct interpretation of given instructions.
Instructions with the PCL format were more likely to be correctly interpreted compared to standard instructions (Adjusted Relative Risk (RR) 1.08, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.98 ¿ 1.18). Inclusion of the graphic aid (PCL + Graphic) decreased rates of correct interpretation compared to PCL instructions alone (RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.91 -1.05). There was a significant interaction between instruction type and literacy (p=0.008). Those with limited literacy were more likely to correctly interpret the PCL labels (91%) than the standard labels (66%). Those with adequate literacy performed equally well.
The PCL approach may improve patients¿ understanding and use of their medication regimen.