Other Helpful Information

Please refer to these documents for more detailed guidance in writing your patient education materials:

·      Defining Your Learning Objectives

·      Worksheet: Defining Your Learning Objectives

·      Writing Your Handout: Step by Step

·      Writing Your Handout: Safety Information

·      Getting to Know Your Target Audience

·      Assessing Reading Level: the SMOG Formula



Guidelines for Writing Effective Patient Education Materials

Write your draft in a plain-text Microsoft Word document, using these guidelines:

Organization and Style

·         Include title, subtitle, and introductory paragraph.

·         Use headings and subheadings to separate ideas in text.

·         Express one key point in each paragraph.

·         Use active-voice verbs, not passive. For example, say “You will have blood tests done,” not “Blood tests will be done.”

Keep It Simple

·        Weed out unnecessary information. Include only information that is relevant to the learning objectives of this particular document. For example, a handout about side effects of radiation to the brain should not also include an explanation of the disease for which radiation treatment was prescribed.

·        When possible, use simple, common words instead of less familiar technical terms. When you do use technical words and medical terms, define them. For example, in a handout about hyperglycemia, include that the definition of hyperglycemia is “high blood sugar.”

·        Keep sentences and paragraphs short.

Layout Considerations

·        Include, or indicate in your draft, where space should be added for:

-       Clinician to write in patient-specific information.

-       Patients to write their own notes and questions.

·        List and number steps for doing a procedure in the right order.

·        Indicate where illustrations or diagrams should go. Please provide these as jpeg or tiff files if you have them.

Steps to Create Your Handout

1.      Send your draft in Word format to Pam Younghans at Patient and Family Education Services (PFES). You can:

·         Send the electronic file as an e-mail attachment to pamy@uw.edu; or

·         Send a print-out through campus mail to Pam at Box 359420.

2.      Our staff will:

·         Review your draft for reading level and organization.

·         Ask you for clarification, if needed.

·         Edit and make corrections, as needed.

·         Lay out your document in our standard patient education materials format.

·         Send the document to you for your review and approval.

3.      Once you have approved the content and look of your document, PFES will send you the final version in PDF format and post it to Health Online. Health Online is the UWMC online resource for patient education materials and is available at https://healthonline.washington.edu/.

The process to complete your patient education handout may take weeks to months, depending on its complexity, overall workload of PFES, and your availability to review drafts you receive from PFES.