Patient education.

CHIROPRACTIC PAMPHLET looks at some medical research into what makes a good patient-directed educational leaflet.

In today's world we are bombarded by information. The overload is such that many people will pass a flyer or pamphlet over unless something immediately connects, and the language is engaging.

A chiropractic pamphlet espousing the benefits of this profession

Research study 1: Language style

Four pamphlets presenting information on four new fictional drugs for arthritis were presented to a group of patients suffering from RA.

  1. Drug 1 was presented using a high, academic language style.

  2. Drug 2 was presented using an intermediate language level.

  3. Drug 3 was also presented using an intermediate language level, but focussing on the drug's side-effects.

  4. Drug 4 was presented using a language style typical of popular magazines.

The patients were surveyed as to which drug they would prefer. Not surprisingly the majority chose Drug 2.

Using a language style, not only in Chiropractic pamplets but also in our report of findings for example, that is informative but using an intermediate language level is clearly important. Trying to impress patients with a highly academic langague style just won't wash. It will be consigned to the round file, and if we use it in the practice we are likely to lose patients.

Striking a good balance in the level of language and tailoring the message to the patient's condition and the proposed plan of action is what will deliver the goods.

Warning patients about potential side-effects is a thorn in the flesh for every physician. Does the medical doctor warn the patient that NSAIDs cause ulcers and heart conditions? Probably not. Does the chiropractor warn his patient that a neck adjustment could cause a stroke? Nuff said!

This research suggested that any talk of side-effects is likely to be negative. Do we make no mention of the S-word, because it is so rare, or ...

In any event, getting information to patients that is effective, readable, of value, is an important consideration.

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Research study 2: Smoking

Tackling smoking from the horrific 'lung cancer', 'heart attack', 'emphysema', 'CVA' angle has proved remarkably ineffective. Our patients know of the dangers, every pack of cigarettes warns them, and they smoke on regardless.

However, not many patients realise that there is strong evidence that implicates smoking as an important risk factor for a severe low back condition, for example.

In a UK research project of 756 RA patients, 65 self-identified themselves as smokers. These patients were given an educational pamphlet that dealt with impact of smoking on RA. A follow-up survey revealed that 8% immediately quit after reading the pamphlet, and 41% said that they reduced their smoking levels.

Every chiropractor knows that the chance of winning with a severe disc problem is markedly reduced if the patient is a smoker. Chiropractic pamphlets that put their finger on the problem relating to the patient's condition, be it smoking, lack of exercise, a healthy diet ... are likely to be far more effective than warning them of the likelihood of lung cancer ... nobody after all has a heart attack from smoking, lack of exercise or a poor diet! Right?

A Chiropractic pamphlet, for example, focussing on the effect of Smoking on Leg pain might be more effective. Read more about Intermittent Claudication: LEG PAIN ...

In conclusion

A Chiropractic pamphlet must immediately demand attention in order to be effective. The right picture, the style, the prose, all must be tailored to the patient. Otherwise we are wasting our time and money.

It requires thought! A thrown-together Chiropractic pamphlet is worse than no pamphlet at all. Finding a language style somewhere between a medical journal and Cosmopolitan may not be that easy, but if we keep the thought in the back of our minds when writing our Chiropractic leaflets and flyers we may find them a lot more effective.


Has a chiropractor anywhere designed a correct posture poster such as this one from Ergonomics info? CORRECT POSTURE ...


Interesting links

An annoyed message written on a table in tomato sauce, that indicates the writer became tired of waiting for service


  • Definition of Professionalism ...

  • Introduction to Chiropractic, a must for every waiting room.

  • A book useful for every waiting room, called Introduction to Chiropractic

  • Bats in my Belfry ... another must for every waiting room.

    An amusing book called Bats in my Belfry

  • Don't forget the POSTERS.

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