The Elephant Café Brown Bag Series presents “Recalling Health Information: The Role of Communication Modality, Summarization, and Gender,” by Dr. Tara Johnson.
Patients typically hear health information from their physicians once, which may not be the optimal communication method for patient recall of health information. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the modality (visual or auditory) of initial health information interacts with the modality of summarization to influence the delayed recall of health facts.
College students were randomly assigned to a communication modality condition (visual/read or auditory/hear) as well as to a summary condition (visual/read, auditory/hear, or control/no summary). After a fifteen-minute delay, participants freely recalled health facts regarding Chagas disease. Information presented in the visual modality resulted in better recall than information presented in the auditory modality. Also, a summary in either modality (visual or auditory) was better than no summary at all.
However, the optimal summary modality was dependent on how the health information was first presented. When patients initially read health information, it was best for the summary to be verbal. However, when patients initially heard health information, any type of summary was effective.
Summarizing health information improves recall. If time with patients is limited, our results suggest that it is not necessary to provide verbal summaries of health information; written summaries (e.g., brochures, websites) could also increase patient recall. Physicians should find the most efficient way to provide patients with health summaries to improve patient adherence to protocol, thereby decreasing potential health-related risks.
Department of Psychology