Instructions on prescription medication labels might be hard for patients to understand, especially people with low levels of literacy and those who are illiterate, a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found.
For the study, researchers conducted interviews with 395 English-speaking adults to determine their understanding of the label instructions on five common prescription drugs. The participants in July 2003 and July 2004 were recruited from three primary care clinics serving mostly indigent populations.
The study found that 46.3% of participants misunderstood at last one of five label instructions. The rate of misunderstanding was higher for participants with low levels of literacy, but 37.7% of participants with "adequate literacy skills" misunderstood at least one of the five label instructions.
The researchers concluded that the text and format of label instructions should be standardized, and the dosage instructions should be made more simple and explicit (Davis et al., Annals of Internal Medicine, 12/19).