Patients (n = 404) with osteoarthrosis and control subjects (n = 233) were studied to examine the communicational value of five styles of illustration (cartoon (C), matchstick (M), representational (R), symbolic (S), photographic (P) and two levels of text ('easy', 'hard'), presented as educational booklets about osteoarthrosis. Booklet comprehension was tested with a multiple choice questionnaire (MCQ) scored by two raw score and two, more sensitive, weight-of-evidence methods. Further studies assessed perception of image detail, tone, and colour by ranking, rating, latency, and questionnaire methods. A subgroup was tested psychometrically. The main findings were: pictures in booklets enhance communication; perception of pictorial style depends on its vehicle of presentation, cartoons being most effective in booklets, photographs overall; simplifying text does not significantly enhance communication; certain picture-text 'interactions' appear to increase comprehension (e.g. 'hard' text with 'easy' pictures); several 'endogenous' factors are associated with increased comprehension: 'psychological' (e.g., intelligence, memory, reading skill); 'demographic' (e.g., the young, males, higher social grades, higher educational levels); 'disease' (e.g., longer disease duration, previous information about the disease).
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