Developing and testing a culturally sensitive health information leaflet on the consequences of alcohol abuse: Rhodes University support staff with limited literacy in focus

Samridhi Sharma, Praise Marara, Nick Townsend, Sunitha Srinivas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Alcohol consumption is one of the main modifiable risk factors that contribute to the global burden of diseases. Alcohol consumption is amongst the fast-growing non-communicable diseases commonly found in low-and middle-income countries.There is therefore a strong need to design and use health education materials that address the problem in these countries. Objectives: The objective of this study was to develop and test a context-specific and culturally sensitive health information leaflet (HIL) on the health consequences of alcohol abuse. The HIL was intended for use by support staff with limited literacy at Rhodes University.The study was conducted over a period of three months at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. Methods: A HIL was designed using a four-draft process, and then, subjected to readability testing. The testing was carried out using seven readability formulae. This was followed by a quality and suitability assessment using the Suitability Assessment of Materials instrument and the Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool. Five support staff members and nine peer educators were selected from Rhodes University to take part in the pilot testing and focus group discussions, respectively. Convenience sampling technique was used to select the study participants. Results: The HIL obtained a readability score of grade 12. This readability score was found to be difficult to read. However, ignoring certain medical terms such as disease and numbness, which were thought to be familiar, enough to the participants may result in more favourable readability scores. Conclusions: The HIL obtained an average readability score of grade 12, which fell within the target range of this study. A HIL in which care about readability, cultural sensitivity, and the extent of an end-user participation has been taken may improve the reception, by the target audience, of the intended communication. This may eventually enhance the implementation of future health interventions for support staff at Rhodes University.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-51
Number of pages8
JournalEthiopian Journal of Health Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Alcohol
  • Culture-sensitive
  • Health information leaflet
  • Low literates
  • Non-communicable disease
  • Readability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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