2. Using past experience
Drawing on their own past experience, consumers do not expect to find it easy to read and even less easy to understand.
In testing this type of public document we explain at the beginning of testing that we will be asking people questions about the medicine and its use and insist that they try and answer the question using the information on the packaging. Their response is often to try answering the questions without looking at the packaging, using their own experience instead. We remind them to use the packaging as we go through the testing. The fact that we have to remind them repeatedly is telling. Simply put, they don’t like reading these panels. We suspect that outside of our testing they would be even less likely to read them.
3. Stopping readers
As if to reinforce consumers’ view of the purpose of the back of pack, the first thing they see after the totally redundant heading Medicines Information, is Active Ingredients. We know from research we undertook on behalf of the government, which was subsequently published publicly as an example of best practice by the Australian Language and Literacy Council, that the best place for Active ingredients is last not first.
Putting it first and asking consumers to read the names of the active ingredients is doubly duanting.
- The words ‘Paracetamol’ and ‘Ibuprofen’ are part of a technical language used by Doctors and Pharmacists and therefore unfamiliar and potentially meaningless to most consumers.
- Consumers have difficulty pronouncing these unfamiliar words.
This reinforces consumers view that this is not written with them in mind, and they are inclined to give up and not read any further.
All of this is taking place in the few short seconds that consumers give normally to the back of pack. I could go on in great detail, but the point is made. There are many faults in this packaging beyond the two major ones above. Suffice to say that this label is unlikely to meet even the minimal usability standards set out in the industry code of practice.
When TGA was proposing these new regulations many of us asked that any new labelling proposed should be tested. The TGA said it would, but never kept it’s promise. Medicine users deserve better.
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