1 December 2020
consumer medication information, medication guides, patient medication information, prescription drug information leaflet, patient information leaflets, multimedia learning, health literacy, eHealth literacy, consumer health informatics, cognitive theory of multimedia learning
Electronic health resources are becoming prevalent. However, consumer medication information (CMI) is still predominantly text based. Incorporating multimedia into CMI (eg, images, narration) may improve consumers’ memory of the information as well as their perceptions and preferences of these materials.
This study examined whether adding images and narration to CMI impacted patients’ (1) memory, (2) perceptions of comprehensibility, utility, or design quality, and (3) overall preferences.
We presented 36 participants with CMI in 3 formats: (1) text, (2) text + images, and (3) narration + images, and subsequently asked them to recall information. After seeing all 3 CMI formats, participants rated the formats in terms of comprehensibility, utility, and design quality, and ranked them from most to least favorite.
Interestingly, no significant differences in memory were observed ( F 2,70=0.1, P=0.901). Thus, this study did not find evidence to support multimedia or modality principles in the context of CMI. Despite the absence of effects on memory, the CMI format significantly impacted perceptions of the materials. Specifically, participants rated the text + images format highest in terms of comprehensibility (χ 2 2=26.5, P<.001) and design quality (χ 2 2=35.69, P<.001). Although the omnibus test suggested a difference in utility ratings as well (χ 2 2=8.21, P=.016), no significant differences were found after correcting for multiple comparisons. Consistent with perception findings, the preference ranks yielded a significant difference (χ 2 2=26.00, P<.001), whereby participants preferred the text + images format overall. Indeed, 75% (27/36) of participants chose the text + images format as their most favorite. Thus, although there were no objective memory differences between the formats, we observed subjective differences in comprehensibility, design quality, and overall preferences.
This study revealed that although multimedia did not appear to influence memory of CMI, it did impact participants’ opinions about the materials. The lack of observed differences in memory may have been due to ceiling effects, memory rather than understanding as an index of learning, the fragmented nature of the information in CMI itself, or the size or characteristics of the sample (ie, young, educated subjects with adequate health literacy skills). The differences in the subjective (ie, perceptions and preferences) and objective (ie, memory) results highlight the value of using both types of measures. Moreover, findings from this study could be used to inform future research on how CMI could be designed to better suit the preferences of consumers and potentially increase the likelihood that CMI is used. Additional research is warranted to explore whether multimedia impacts memory of CMI under different conditions (eg, older participants, subjects with lower levels of health literacy, more difficult stimuli, or extended time for decay).