Evaluation of consumer medical information and oral liquid measuring devices accompanying pediatric prescriptions

Lorraine S. Wallace, Amy J. Keenum, Jennifer E. DeVoe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess supplementary materials accompanying 2 commonly prescribed pediatric medications, including the following: 1) readability and layout characteristics of pharmacy-generated consumer medical information (CMI); and 2) types and features of oral liquid measuring devices (OLMDs) provided. Methods: We filled the same two prescriptions (prednisolone and amoxicillin) at 20 pharmacies (national grocery store chain [n = 1], regional grocery store chains [n = 4], national pharmacy chains [n = 3], national superstore chains [n = 3], and independently owned [n = 9]) across three states (Colorado, Georgia, and Tennessee). We evaluated readability, using both the Flesch-Kincaid (FK) formula and McLaughlin's Simplified Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG), and text point size of pharmacy-generated CMI. We also assessed whether an OLMD (oral syringe, dropper, or cylindrical spoon) was included with each prescription and recorded the largest marked dose (in mL). Results: Three pharmacies did not provide any type of CMI for either medication. Therefore, CMI was reviewed for 34 prescriptions. Reading grade levels of CMI averaged 9.6 ± 1.9 (range, 5.3-11.7) using the FK and 11.2 ± 2.6 (range, 6-14) based on the SMOG. Average text font size of CMI was 9.8 ± 1.9 (range, 6-12). Although 32 (80%) prescriptions included an OLMD (oral syringe [n = 20], cylindrical spoon [n = 7], and dropper [n = 5]), close to one third (31.3%) would require multiple measurements to attain prescribed dosages. Conclusions: Many of the supplemental materials accompanying the prescriptions filled in this study were suboptimal; CMI was written at reading levels exceeding that of many parents, and the largest marked dose on each OLMD varied substantially. Physicians should be cognizant of the shortcomings of supplemental materials included with many medications, whereas pharmacies should strive to provide understandable CMI (ie, written at or below sixth-grade reading level) and suitable OLMDs (ie, requiring only one measurement of medication) to promote proper medication use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-227
Number of pages4
JournalAcademic Pediatrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • child health
  • health literacy
  • oral medications
  • primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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