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Oncol Nurs Forum. 1996 Sep;23(8):1305-12.

Strategies to improve cancer education materials.

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Patient Learning Associates, Inc., Potomac, MD, USA.



To highlight the benefits of creating effective materials for cancer education; to describe strategies to enhance the suitability of materials for all readers, including those with limited literacy skills.


Published research and education articles, health education models and theories, the National Cancer Institute Office of Cancer Communications, and personal experiences.


Written materials, including visuals, commonly are used to convey cancer life-style risks, detection methods, treatments and procedures, and informed consent information. Such materials are relevant and suitable only when they can be read and understood and are matched to patients' reading abilities. A systematic process to achieve effective written materials includes assessing the target audience, limiting the educational objectives, focusing the content on the desired behaviors, presenting the context of the message first, and planning for reader interaction. The final step is verification of comprehension and suitability with the target audience.


The creation of effective cancer education materials can be achieved by employing strategies that aim to enhance patient understandability, usability, relevancy, and motivation. Learner verification is a quality control process and a technique that helps ensure that materials are suitable for the intended audience and better matched to patients' learning needs.


Nurses can improve the understandability of cancer education by using a variety of learning enhancement techniques and a set of organized planning steps. Such strategies can serve to improve the communication of cancer information to target groups with diverse literacy skills.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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