Honorable Mention: CUGH-Pulitzer 2016 Global Health Video Competition (Innovation Category)

Using pictograms to educate patients in rural Panama

In order to improve patient understanding of medication instructions on trips to rural Panama, we created a pictographic prescription form and studied its use. Rather than a written Spanish language medication label the pictogram uses an image of the sun moving across the sky to denote time of day and simple colored symbols to identify for patients when medications should be taken. In a study of the tool’s effectiveness in which patients were alternately provided pictograms or regular written instructions, patient recall of medication instructions was significantly better in patients receiving the pictograms, an effect significant at the p<0.0005 level. The tool was still more effective in patients are unable to read Spanish. We believe the use of pictographic instructions will significantly improve patient understanding of medication instructions leading to improved safety and outcomes for the patients we serve. Additionally, we believe this tool could be used in any environment, domestic or international, to improve understanding for patients with limited capacity to understand written instructions.

Michael De Rosa MPH, PhD, PA-C

Using pictograms to educate patients in rural Panama