Background: There is increasing interest and effort from guideline developers to produce patient versions of clinical practice guidelines and related products for dissemination to the public. An enduring concern associated with these efforts is that patients and members of the public may not view the guidelines as applicable and relevant to them, failing to reach the intended audience.
Objective: To identify criteria for personalising health information and recommendations in patient versions of guidelines to ensure they are viewed as relevant, applicable and are accessed.
Methods: We conducted a focus group and individual semi-structured interviews with 10 members of the public interested in healthy aging. Qualitative content analysis was used to identify themes relating to personalisation and presentation of patient versions of guidelines.
Results: The main themes identified for the personalisation of guidelines included introducing who the guideline is for, describing specific characteristics of the target audience, using a presentation format directed to the individual, and providing a direction on next steps after reading the information. All participants viewed guidelines as useful, particularly for informed discussion with their healthcare provider. When judging the relevance of a specific guideline and deciding to read it, participants typically considered their current health situation or their family history. A general description of patient characteristics and risk factors for the guideline target audience was viewed as way of identifying applicability. Commonly suggested features of the presentation format were an attention grabbing title and introduction, an easy to read format with short narrative and bullet points, and the use of personal pronouns in the presentation of information and recommendations.
Conclusions: We identified criteria for taking personalisation into consideration to improve current patient versions of guidelines. Guideline developers may apply the proposed solutions to their patient versions aiming to ensure that they are accessed and viewed as relevant and applicable by patients and members of the public.