Terry C. Davis, PhD; Michael S. Wolf, PhD, MPH; Pat F. Bass, MD; Jason A. Thompson, BA; Hugh H. Tilson, MD, DrPH; Marolee Neuberger, MS; Ruth M. Parker, MD
Low literacy contributes to medical and drug nonadherence.
The authors tested patients in indigent communities to see how well they understood pill bottle labels. Patients with lower literacy levels and those taking a greater number of medications were less able to understand the meaning of the labels. Even among patients who understood the labels, only a minority could correctly demonstrate how to take the pills.
Patients' actual drug-taking behaviors were not observed, so the authors could not demonstrate a link between misunderstanding and medication errors.
Lower literacy and a greater number of medications being taken were associated with patient misunderstanding of pill bottle labels.
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Video News Release - Drug Labels are Prescriptions for Mistakes
Davis TC, Wolf MS, Bass PF, Thompson JA, Tilson HH, Neuberger M, et al. Literacy and Misunderstanding Prescription Drug Labels. Ann Intern Med. 2006;145:887-894. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-145-12-200612190-00144
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2006;145(12):887-894.
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