Patients in UK can’t understand leaflets and health guides

Patients in UK can’t understand leaflets and health guides

Many people in England find the health advice given to them by doctors and health professionals too complicated, leaving them at a higher risk of serious health conditions, the Royal College of General Practitioners has warned.


According to research, 43% of British adults find it difficult to understand information containing text, such as signs in hospital, leaflets and health guides, while one in three adults fails to understand numerical information presented to them. In addition, doctors often supplement verbal information with a leaflet, presuming that it can be read. The fact is health professionals sometimes overestimate the health literacy of their patients, and patients can feel too embarrassed to ask questions. This can lead to distress and a lack of understanding for patients. Lower levels of health literacy – which can mean knowing how to take your medication in a safe and effective way, or recognising the risks and benefits of different treatments – has been linked to worse physical and mental health, and serious health conditions such as heart failure and diabetes.

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