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Whats your PLAN? A pilot study of a brief intervention to improve patient self-reported understanding of their health condition and medication in an inpatient hospital setting


Health literacy is poor in many health service users. Although interventions exist, none have been implemented during an inpatient setting. This pilot study investigated the effect of a brief intervention, delivered by hospital pharmacists during an inpatient admission, on patient self-reported understanding of their health condition and medication—one aspect of health literacy.


Patients admitted to a tertiary hospital in New Zealand on one or more high-risk medication were included. Patients received a brief intervention discussing four steps (PLAN) to help patients: Prepare for their next health visit, Listen and share concerns, Ask questions and Note what to do next. The primary outcome was patient self-reported understanding of their health condition and medication. Secondary outcomes were number and types of pharmacist interventions, patient satisfaction and pharmacist intervention acceptability.


Thirty-eight patients received the intervention. Scores improved for how well patients felt they understood their health conditions (increase from 3.65±1.16 to 4.28±0.74, P=0.027), their medication (3.50±1.11 to 4.44±0.77, P=0.001) and how to take their medication (4.12±0.95 to 4.60±0.76, P=0.051). Additional pharmacy interventions were made for 47% of patients. Mean patient satisfaction scores were high (4.64±0.57); however, pharmacist acceptability was only moderately positive with many finding the intervention only somewhat rewarding.


This pilot study shows that a pharmacist-delivered intervention can have an effect on an aspect of health literacy in an inpatient setting. It suggests the potential for further inpatient interventions, which target health literacy issues.

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