If you want to engage readers with important health information and recruit them into a beneficial program, then choose the font and title wisely. An appealing font and easy-to-pronounce title has a stronger influence on readers and can increase the likelihood of their recruitment, according to a new study by the University of Manchester and Leeds Beckett University.
The research, published in the journal Patient Education and Counselling, assessed the extent to which the title and font of participant information sheets can influence a person’s perception of written information. The study involved 35 pregnant women and 36 trainee midwives who were randomly presented with one of four participant information sheets describing an antenatal program.
“When it comes to people engaging with written information related to their health and wellbeing, it is vital that it is presented in the most accessible format,” said Dr. Andrew Manley, a Chartered Sport and Exercise Psychologist and Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Leeds Beckett.
“In reality, such information is presented in all manner of styles, fonts, and formats, and we wanted to use this study to explore just how much this impacts on people’s level of understanding and engagement.”
The information sheets, all detailing the same program, were presented in four different ways to the trainee midwives and pregnant women. The title and font had been manipulated to one of the following: an easy to pronounce title and easy-to-read font; difficult to pronounce title and difficult-to-read font; easy to pronounce title and difficult-to-read font; or difficult to pronounce title and easy-to-read font.
“It’s often assumed that easy to read material is judged as familiar, is more likely to be accepted, and less likely to be scrutinized,” said Manley.
After reading the antenatal program information sheet, participants were asked to rate their perceptions of the program in terms of the following: whether they would be likely to participate in the program; how easy it was to understand details of the program; the level of perceived risk associated with participation; and the level of effort required to fulfill participation requirements.
The findings showed no major differences between how the trainee-midwives perceived the various information sheets, but results for the pregnant women’s ratings showed a significant difference in relation to perceptions of the program’s complexity. Specifically, when the title was easy to pronounce with an easy-to-read font, pregnant women perceived the program to be less complex and easier to understand compared to when the title and font were presented in a more awkward style.
One hypothesis for the difference in outcome between the trainee midwives and the pregnant women is that the trainee midwives’ broader knowledge of specific issues may have made them less reliant on the presentation of the text.
“Just as previous research has shown that perceived complexity can influence injured athletes’ adherence to rehabilitation programs, our study suggests that similar perceptions may guide pregnant women’s decisions in relation to potentially beneficial programs,” said Manley.
“ Therefore, practitioners should present participant information sheets in a clear manner if they are to maximize recruitment to a given course or program. We are currently developing a follow-up study on a larger scale to test the consistency of these findings in other clinical contexts.”
Source: Manchester University