Communication & Medicine, Vol 6, No 2 (2009)

Medication information leaflets for patients:The further validation of an analytic linguistic framework

Rosemary Clerehan, Di Hirsh, Rachelle Buchbinder
Issued Date: 20 Jan 2010


While clinicians may routinely use patient information leaflets about drug therapy, a poorly conceived leaflet has the potential to do harm. We previously developed a novel approach to analysing leaflets about a rheumatoid arthritis drug, using an analytic approach based on systemic functional linguistics. The aim of the present study was to verify the validity of the linguistic framework by applying it to two further arthritis drug leaflets. The findings confirmed the applicability of the framework and were used to refine it. A new stage or ‘move’ in the genre was identified. While the function of many of the moves appeared to be ‘to instruct’ the patient, the instruction was often unclear. The role relationships expressed in the text were critical to the meaning. As with our previous study, judged on their lexical density, the leaflets resembled academic text. The framework can provide specific tools to assess and produce medication information leaflets to support readers in taking medication. Future work could utilize the framework to evaluate information on other treatments and procedures or on healthcare information more widely.

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DOI: 10.1558/cam.v6i2.117


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