Invited Commentary
April 8, 2013

Left BehindEnsuring Clarity and Completeness of Our Educational Materials and Messages

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of General Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology and the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill.

JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(7):583-584. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.3779

Sometimes it seems that despite our best efforts to educate patients and families, we miss the mark. During internship, one of us (D.A.D.) sat down with the mom of a 2-year-old child to discuss the child's condition and plan for care. After spending time “clearly” explaining things to her, the mom looked up with a bewildered yet calm look and said, “I have no idea what you just said.” This mom was lost. Thankfully, she had the courage to speak up. Often, we assume that we speak and write clearly and that our communication is effective; yet for various reasons, there is a gap between what patients know and what health care providers think they should know.

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