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Patient Educ Couns. 2009 Aug;76(2):283-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2009.01.013. Epub 2009 Mar 14.

The use of illustration to improve older adults' comprehension of health-related information: is it helpful?

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1
Department of Occupational Therapy, Indiana University at Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN 46202-5199, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To examine whether explanatory illustrations can improve older adults' comprehension of written health information.

METHODS:

Six short health-related texts were selected from websites and pamphlets. Young and older adults were randomly assigned to read health-related texts alone or texts accompanied by explanatory illustrations. Eye movements were recorded while reading. Word recognition, text comprehension, and comprehension of the illustrations were assessed after reading.

RESULTS:

Older adults performed as well as or better than young adults on the word recognition and text comprehension measures. However, older adults performed less well than young adults on the illustration comprehension measures. Analysis of readers' eye movements showed that older adults spent more time reading illustration-related phrases and fixating on the illustrations than did young adults, yet had poorer comprehension of the illustrations.

CONCLUSION:

Older adults might not benefit from text illustrations because illustrations can be difficult to integrate with the text.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS:

Health practitioners should not assume that illustrations will increase older adults' comprehension of health information.

PMID:
19286343
DOI:
10.1016/j.pec.2009.01.013
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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