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I concur that consumers often have a strong desire for more complex and
depth literature on their medical conditions and that the abilities of
these particular consumers are level with their health professionals'
abilities in terms of being able to read and interpret a well written
article or book.
 
For those unable to cut through the physician barriers (time, jargon,
etc.), I recommend that they assert themselves, armed with the literature
they have read.  This can bring the arrogant physician down to earth -
knowing that the customer is educated levels the playing field.
 
My other tactic is to provide an array of material at different reading
levels and depth, letting the user make the decision about which
literature is best/easiest for them at that particular time.
 
That being said, there are also consumers with lower level reading ability
and they do require the pre-digested material.  Given that this material
is peer-reviewed, it is smart to give this to the more advanced reader as
well to give them a starting point. The consumer oriented health
information literature is growing and improving.
 
There needs to be a better index to the consumer literature.  The conusmer
oriented Health Reference Center, when I evaluated it, indexed pamphlet
material that was outdated, did not include much newer pamphlet material
that was available at low cost and included randomly selected medical
literature, not journal articles that a good librarian would necessarily
select from the medical literature for a well educated consumer.  But, in
the absence of better index resources, this product will continue to
dominate the marketplace.  With better access to the world of excellent
pamphlet literature available, in print and on the 'net, it could be that
we wouldn't need to resort to the medical literature for patients so
often.
 
On Tue, 3 Sep 1996, Cathy Wolfson wrote:
 
> I, too, have been following this thread with interest.
>
>
> Another thought...when consumers express reservations about their ability
> to read the literature, I suggest they discuss what they're reading with
> their physicians.  All too often their response is that they are here
> because the doctors don't have time for them, or speak above their heads,
> or leave them so intimidated that they don't feel free to ask.
 
>  ...  Anyone else out there having this experience?
>
 
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