Over the course of your career, you’ve definitely heard it said that to be effective, patient marketing materials have to be written at a 6th grade reading level or below to ensure comprehension among the masses. Well, this does not necessarily tell the full story.
Recent studies1,2 have demonstrated that education level is directly and strongly correlated with patient adherence to treatment. While there are certainly other factors at play when it comes to continuing a particular therapy, it has been proven repeatedly that education is a biggie.
So, here’s the conundrum. All things being equal, lower educated patients are likely going to have lower adherence rates. This is the group where adherence interventions will produce the lowest return.
Why then are we exclusively developing our branded patient materials to speak to them?
The truth is—and the authors of the studies I’ve cited have noted this previously—there is a true need for patient education materials at both low and high educational levels. If your brand is only developing materials for the lowest group, then you are likely alienating your best prospects for optimal adherence with drug therapy.
I know there are cost implications to what I’m suggesting. But consider what you might be giving up in revenue if you don’t also tailor your messages to your more sophisticated brand users.
How do your target patients feel about your brand’s communication style? Not sure? Give us a call.
1. Mehta, RH, et al. Association of Mortality with Years of Education in Patients with ST-Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction Treated with Fibrinolysis. J of Am Coll Cardiol. 2011;57(2): 138-146. 2. Wolf, MS, et al. Literacy, Self-Efficacy, and HIV medication adherence. Patient Education and Counseling. 2007;65(2):253-260.