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Patient Educ Couns. 2010 Mar;78(3):316-28. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2009.10.029. Epub 2009 Dec 14.

What constitutes evidence-based patient information? Overview of discussed criteria.

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  • 1University of Hamburg, Unit of Health Sciences and Education, 20146 Hamburg, Germany.



To survey quality criteria for evidence-based patient information (EBPI) and to compile the evidence for the identified criteria.


Databases PubMed, Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, PSYNDEX and Education Research Information Center (ERIC) were searched to update the pool of criteria for EBPI. A subsequent search aimed to identify evidence for each criterion. Only studies on health issues with cognitive outcome measures were included. Evidence for each criterion is presented using descriptive methods.


3 systematic reviews, 24 randomized-controlled studies and 1 non-systematic review were included. Presentation of numerical data, verbal presentation of risks and diagrams, graphics and charts are based on good evidence. Content of information and meta-information, loss- and gain-framing and patient-oriented outcome measures are based on ethical guidelines. There is a lack of studies on quality of evidence, pictures and drawings, patient narratives, cultural aspects, layout, language and development process.


The results of this review allow specification of EBPI and may help to advance the discourse among related disciplines. Research gaps are highlighted.


Findings outline the type and extent of content of EBPI, guide the presentation of information and describe the development process.

Copyright 2009 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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