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GPs should improve patient education in waiting rooms, say researchers

Educational patient information offered in GP practice waiting rooms is often ‘outdated and poorly presented’, a study has claimed.

Researchers from the University of Brighton found that practice waiting rooms had on average 72 posters on 23 different topics, and 53 leaflets covering 24 topics.

But, with a survey of 500 patients finding around eight in 10 patients notice this information, the researchers suggested this resource was not well utilised.

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Their study found displays included ‘a large amount of out-of-date information, blank displays, duplicated posters, closed leaflets pinned to noticeboards, out-of-use television screens, posters targeted at staff, and other poor utilisation of resources’.

Most of the health education material available in waiting rooms was produced by national or local charities and organisations. Only a few practices produced their own material, and in some practices no one was responsible for updating the information.
Consequently, practices could not always be held responsible for the quality of these items, the researchers commented.
But the report, published in the British Journal of General Practice, suggested that closer collaboration between the external providers of education material and GP practices might contribute to patients receiving higher quality information.

The researchers also suggested that practices should make better use of technology to widen access to health education material.
However, as the researchers also acknowledged, the current pressures on general practice meant it is unlikely this will be high on GP surgeries’ list of priorities.