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  • Writer's pictureDr Joseph Nightingale

8 Foolproof Tips for Writing Patient Leaflets and Content

Patient leaflets, guides, and brochures should deliver concise, compelling, easy-to-understand content. That means no puzzling terms or fear-inducing language. Striking the right balance isn't simple as it sounds. In fact, for experts and professionals, it's hard to remember what it was like before they entered their field.

Doctor viewing patient content on a smartphone.

And that's without considering the statutory requirements for patient information leaflets (PILs) and other patient-focused healthcare writing. Indeed, the UK government closely regulates PILs, from their design to their information. Meanwhile, the Scottish government enshrined in law the right of patients to receive information in a way they understand.

Want some clarification? Below I'm providing some top tips to convey medical information clearly and comprehensibly to patients. Never be misunderstood again.

Tips for Writing Patient Leaflets or Content

8 Tips for Writing Patient Leaflets and Content

1. Keep Sentences Short

To ensure your healthcare writing is easily digestible, try to keep sentences short and straightforward. This isn't just a stylistic preference; the optimum Flesch-Kincaid reading level for patient leaflets and brochures is around grade 8, which corresponds to the reading ability of a 13–14-year-old. Maintaining this level makes the information more accessible to a broader audience.

2. Use Inclusive Language

All patient information leaflets should be written in an inclusive language that speaks to everyone regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status.

Unless you're trying to target a specific group of people, your patient content should be as easy to understand for 80-year-old Mabel as for 19-year-old Nabeel.

You can also use personal pronouns, like "we" and "you," to further create a sense of inclusion and trust. It's all about considering the patient's perspective. Speaking of which…

3. Write From the Patient's Point of View

Empathy is the art of putting yourself in someone else's shoes. Whether you're writing a newsletter or patient brochure, consider not just what the reader wants to know but how they want to know it. Address their concern, write in easy-to-understand language, answer questions, and use relatable metaphors.

4. Include Diagrams and Picture

Simple diagrams, helpful pictures, and even graphs convey information at a glance. Most patient leaflets aren't read from cover to cover. Patients flick through, taking away what they need to know. If you're describing a complex medical concept or explaining a procedure, adding accompanying pictures helps the patients grasp the information quicker. Remember, a well-chosen image in a patient leaflet can communicate what might take hundreds of words to explain.

5. Add Bullet or Numbered Points

People will often speed read a bullet point list that, if written long-form, they'd ignore. Breaking down information into bullet or number points ensures it's easy for patients to follow and remember. It's a neat trick that transforms a large block of text into bite-sized, digestible pieces in patient leaflets and brochures.

6. Avoid Complex Jargon

Healthcare professionals often use medical jargon, forgetting that this language is foreign to many patients. It's crucial to substitute complex terminology with simpler, everyday language to ensure patient brochures are easily understood. Acronyms are also the bane of a patient's life. Never use an abbreviation or acronym when you could just use regular language.

7. Write in Everyday Language

Just like avoiding complex jargon, patient information leaflets should be written in everyday language. Think about how you would explain a medical condition or procedure to a friend or family member who isn't a healthcare professional. Moreover, if you must use specific terminology, reiterate the new words to reinforce their meaning.

That doesn't just apply to medical terminology. Instead of "assist," use "help." "Administer" means the same as "give" or "manage." Simplifying the language ensures everyone can understand the information.

8. Fact Check for Accuracy

Accuracy is paramount in healthcare writing. Before finalizing any patient leaflet or brochure, ensure all medical information is thoroughly fact-checked. This step is critical, as misinformation can lead to confusion, anxiety, and potentially even harmful health decisions.

That could mean getting a second pair of eyes to review the content or leaving the newly written content for a while so that you can return to it with a fresh mind.

Final Thoughts

Crafting patient-centred healthcare content that's clear, concise, and engaging isn't easy. It's a delicate balance of empathetic writing, accurate information, and an understanding of the patient's perspective.

However, writing is an art, and like all arts, it requires practice and skill. If you need help creating effective patient information materials, we at Impeccable Writing are here to assist.

We have the knowledge and experience to deliver compelling content that meets all regulatory requirements. Book a free consultation - reach out to us today. Empower your patients with knowledge the Impeccable way.


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