Designing patient-focused information: An opportunity for communicating anatomically related information


  • Darrell J.R. Evans

    Corresponding author
    1. Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Sussex University, Brighton, United Kingdom
    • Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Sussex University, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9PX, United Kingdom
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Literature clearly demonstrates that there has been a large increase in the time devoted to teaching oral communication skills within medical curricula worldwide. In contrast, the ability to communicate with patients through written means does not appear to be a feature in many programmes, despite its fundamental importance in creating understanding of medicine within the general population. This article investigates one way patient-centered written communication has been integrated into part of the early training years of medical students using anatomically related material as a focus. Following a series of interactive seminars and debates as part of a student-selected component, students were asked to prepare a patient-focused information leaflet on a particular birth defect. The leaflets included aspects of anatomy and embryology as well as causes of the birth defect, signs and symptoms, treatments, outlook, and support mechanisms. Evaluation of the leaflets using set marking criteria and readability indexes showed that students had successfully targeted the chosen audiences. Feedback showed that the component was rated highly by the students in terms of quality, usefulness, and interest. Students viewed sessions as an excellent forum for appreciating the importance of and developing their own effective written communication skills. It is hoped that such developments will enhance the capacity of all potential doctors to communicate more effectively with patients and colleagues in both the written and spoken form. Anat Sci Ed 1:41–45, 2008. © 2007 American Association of Anatomists.