Researchers from Keele University have shown that most patient information leaflets in GP waiting rooms (and therefore possibly pharmacies) are written at a level too complex for nearly half the population. The study suggests that GPs and pharmacists could review the written information they have on display, consider whether any need replacing with more appropriate versions,  possibly involving patient representative groups in this action.  

This research has been published by BJGP - please contact the lead author, Dr Joanne Protheroe at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., for more information if required. 

Patients and the public need to be able to understand health materials in order to become and stay healthy. Researchers from King's College London and Keele University looked at the literacy and numeracy complexity of health materials in common circulation and compared this to the skills of the English adult working-age population. The study found that the materials were written at too complex a level for 43% of working-age adults (16-65 years old): this figure rises to 61% if the health information includes numeracy. The Health Literacy Group has worked with key partners, including NHS England, to develop an action plan to address this. 

The research publication is cited in a policy briefing from the Community, Health and Learning Foundation and the full publication is is soon to be published in the British Journal of General Practice: please contact the lead author This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.cl.ac.uk for further information. 

The executive summary of the action plan is also available on our news page.