Many health information producers are not equipped to create understandable and usable products for the public, research suggests.
A survey by the Patient Information Forum reveals that more than 90 per cent of such producers viewed health literacy as very important when producing information for the public, yet only 10 per cent said they had a health literacy strategy or policy.
The association believes this lack of support and guidance for producers could derail the government’s ambition for transforming information for the NHS, public health and social care nationwide.
Enabling people to understand treatments is said to be vital to ensuring that good and safe choices are made by patients, particularly in the case of those with low literacy skills and those who are not experts on health and treatments.
The poll, which questioned over 340 of the best-known health information producers, also highlights the barriers and challenges to producing information that is easy to understand and enables informed decision making.
Some 73 per cent pointed to a lack of resources, while 75 per cent said they had limited understanding of how to develop the right resources.
One respondent even underlined the absence of any guidance, saying there was “no written help on how to word patient information”.
In light of the findings, Sarah Smith, operations director at PiF, wants to see better support, training and guidance provided for organisations producing healthcare information.
“Information producers are fighting a lack of resources, funding and investment in health information for patients,” she said. “It’s time to address these issues and provide people with information that meets their needs.”