Randomised controlled trial of self management leaflets and booklets for minor illness provided by post

Little, Paul, Somerville, Jane, Williamson, Ian, Warner, Greg, Moore, Michael, Wiles, Rose, George, Steve, Smith, Ann and Peveler, Robert (2001) Randomised controlled trial of self management leaflets and booklets for minor illness provided by post. British Medical Journal, 322, (7296), 1214-1217. (doi:10.1136/bmj.322.7296.1214).


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Objective: To assess the effectiveness of providing information by post about managing minor illnesses.

Design: Randomised controlled trial.

Setting: Six general practices.

Participants: Random sample of 4002 patients from the practice registers.

Intervention: Patients were randomised to receive one of three kinds of leaflet or booklet endorsed by their general practitioner: control (surgery access times), booklet, or summary card. Main outcome measures: Attendance with the 42 minor illnesses listed in the booklet. Perceived usefulness of leaflets or booklets, confidence in managing illness, and willingness to wait before seeing the doctor.

Results: 238 (6%) patients did not receive the intervention as allocated. Of the remaining 3764 patients, 2965 (79%) had notes available for review after one year. Compared with the control group, fewer patients attended commonly with the minor illnesses in the booklet group (?2 consultations a year: odds ratio 0.81, 95% confidence interval 0.67 to 0.99) and the summary card group (0.83; 0.72 to 0.96). Among patients who had attended with respiratory tract infections in the past year there was a reduction in those attending in the booklet group (0.81; 0.62 to 1.07) and summary card group (0.67; 0.51 to 0.89) compared with the control group. The incidence of contacts with minor illness fell slightly compared with the previous year in the booklet (incidence ratio 0.97; 0.84 to 1.13) and summary card groups (0.93; 0.80 to 1.07). More patients in the intervention groups felt greater confidence in managing illness (booklet 32%, card 34%, control 12%, P<0.001), but there was no difference in willingness to wait score (all groups mean=32, P=0.67).

Conclusion: Most patients find information about minor illness provided by post useful, and it helps their confidence in managing illness. Information may reduce the number attending commonly with minor illness, but the effect on overall contacts is likely to be modest. These data suggest that posting detailed information booklets about minor illness to the general population would have a limited effect.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1136/bmj.322.7296.1214
ISSNs: 0959-8138 (print)
1468-5833 (electronic)
Related URLs:
Keywords: practice, patient, surgery, outcome
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > Superseded (SOHPRS)
University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Medicine > Community Clinical Sciences
ePrint ID: 17956
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
19 May 2001Published
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2005
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 11:33
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/17956

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