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  Expert Forum for Knowledge Presentation
  Preparing for the Future of Knowledge Presentation


van der Waarde

  Producers, Regulators and Users: balancing conflicting demands in medical information
© 2004, Karel van der Waarde

    Conference presentation Video


Patients receive information about their medicines from a number of sources. The package leaflet is one of the main printed sources of information, which is both welcomed and criticized by patients. They are seen as important, especially in describing the effects of a specific medicine on a particular condition, and advising about side effects. On the other hand, these leaflets are frequently rigid in their structure, hard to understand and insufficiently legible. (Figure 1)

If anything has been shown in the last few decades, it is that individual approaches from each of these groups have not been effective. Consumer associations and patient organizations, manufacturers and the EU-departments have individually suggested improvements based on their particular perspectives. Most of these initiatives failed because the other parties were not actively involved.

The main issue is to find appropriate methods to bring these groups together so that the legal-, economic-, technological- and social issues can be considered. The starting point is that clear and understandable information is an essential ingredient of a medicine.

Figure 1. Dosage instructions in a package leaflet for tablets against migraine.


The pharmaceutical industry, the medical- and pharmaceutical professions, the regulators, and patients have to co-operate to improve these.

Karel van der Waarde
  Karel van der Waarde is a design research consultant. He studied graphic design in the Netherlands (Eindhoven) and in the UK (Leicester, Reading). He received his doctorate in 1994 with a dissertation entitled: ‘An investigations into the suitability of the graphic presentation of patient package inserts’. In 1995, he started a design-research consultancy in Belgium specializing in the testing of information design. The company develops patient information leaflets, instructions, forms, protocols, and information architecture for web sites. Karel van der Waarde is affiliated with the University of Delft and frequently publishes and lectures about visual information. He is editor of Information Design Journal and moderator of the InfoDesign and InfoDesign-Café discussion lists.


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