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GP waiting rooms should provide better health education materials

Dr Priyamvada Paudyal, Lecturer in Public Health

GP waiting rooms should provide better health education materials, according to a new study at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS).

Researchers found that, although there is evidence to suggest that health education materials displayed in GP waiting rooms are associated with increased patient knowledge and satisfaction, little is known about how this information is presented to patients in the UK.

BSMS student Katherine Maskell, along with colleagues from BSMS, studied more than 500 patients and 19 practices, where they were registered.

They found a bewildering range of materials, with the average waiting room containing 72 posters covering 23 different topics, plus 53 leaflets covering 24 topics, with many outdated and poorly presented materials with limited access.

Only half of waiting rooms contained a TV screen and none played sound, despite evidence that TV screens are a potentially effective educational resource.

Only 47% of patients questioned considered the health education materials on offer to be well-designed and attractive, although the majority (68%) did find them useful.

Dr Priyamvada Paudyal, Lecturer in Public Health and lead author on the study, said: “Health education materials in waiting rooms are often associated with increased knowledge and satisfaction, and decreased anxiety among patients, yet many GP surgeries don't update their waiting rooms regularly.

“This study highlights the need for GP surgeries to display relevant, evidence-based information in order to help support informed decision making and patients’ involvement in their care.”

The study also found that most practices did not have a personal responsibility for health education materials in the waiting room.

Dr Paydual added: “As most practices rely on outside providers of health education information, national and local producers of this material should be encouraged to work with practices and practice federations to ensure that the displays in waiting rooms are appropriate, useful, well-designed, up-to-date and accessible.”

The study has been published in the British Journal of General Practice.

Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) is an equal partnership between the Universities of Sussex and Brighton together with NHS organisations throughout the South East region. 

Posted on behalf of: BSMS
Last updated: Wednesday, 24 October 2018


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