The aim of the study was to investigate the effectiveness of user testing for improving healthcare professionals’ retrieval and comprehension of information in medicines guidelines.
The United Kingdom’s Injectable Medicines Guide was selected as a case study. This gives guidance to nurses on preparing and administering intravenous medicines on hospital wards, in line with standard UK practice. Three rounds of user testing were completed with 10 hospital nurses per round, using the Injectable Medicines Guide for voriconazole and aminophylline. Participants used the guidelines to answer 17 questions related to the administration of these medicines. Answers were scored for “finding” and “understanding” the required information. Semistructured interviews explored participants’ opinions of guideline content, design, and wording, with responses analyzed thematically. The guidelines were revised between rounds.
In round 1, 8 of 17 questions were answered correctly by all participants. Participants had difficulty with dose, dilution, administration rate, and adverse effects questions. Revisions included new subsections and increased calculation support. In round 2, 14 of 17 questions were answered correctly by all participants. Difficulty persisted with dose and administration rate questions and further revisions made. In round 3, 15 of 17 questions were answered correctly by all participants. Across all rounds, participants considered appropriate subheadings and information order as important for fast location of information. Specific, detailed, and practical instructions were perceived as important to improve understandability and usefulness.
Key information in medicines guidelines may not be found and/or understood by healthcare professionals. User testing increased information retrieval and comprehension and could have an important role in improving the safety of medicines use.