Health literacy in market research isn’t often considered in research design. However, we need to put ourselves in the mindset of our respondents and how they think — instead of how you think.
This is especially true for patients. Try to pose questions to them from their perspective and not yours, and don’t use the same medical terminology you would with physicians. For example, if you’re engaging a physician, you might refer to “femoral neutropenia,” but when talking to a patient, you are probably better off just referring to it as fever.
It’s important to keep in mind that, for the general patient population, the national average for reading comprehension is between the 7th and 8th grade level. Quirk’s Magazine recently published key findings from studies by the Pharmaceutical Marketing Research Group’s Health Literacy Initiative committee on the impact of low health literacy on market research.
As researchers, we are responsible for the proper design, execution and analysis of our studies. The research may be flawed if patients with low health literacy are not considered. Beyond your responsibilities as a marketing researcher, consider your opportunity to provide added value to your client, as well as your client’s client. Armed with the above knowledge, you are empowered to help move the industry towards better market research and, ultimately, higher levels of patient health.
In addition to meeting business objectives, good market research has the opportunity to educate and build awareness. Make sure your respondents understand what you’re asking them, and you will help “move the industry towards better market research and, ultimately, higher levels of patient health.”