A sample of 50 consecutive patients with gout was tested by means of a multiple-choice knowledge-testing questionnaire based on the Arthritis and Rheumatism Council's Gout: A Handbook for Patients. Patients were divided into two groups: (a) those tested with an illustrated booklet containing 89 cartoons, and (b) those tested with an unillustrated booklet with text exactly the same as in the illustrated booklet. No significant difference was observed in either the overall test scores between the two groups or between individual question scores. It was concluded that increasing the number of illustrations in the Arthritis and Rheumatism Council's handbook on gout had not significantly increased the value of this material as a communication aid. Certain sources of error have been discussed including the possibility of an 'interest factor' due to the inevitable interest patients have in reading about their own disease, and also the possibility that technical factors to do with page layout and picture/text imbalance might be responsible for failing to show differences between the two groups.
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