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Health information needs of visually impaired people: a systematic review of the literature

Beverley, C., Bath, P.A. and Booth, A. (2004) Health information needs of visually impaired people: a systematic review of the literature. Health and Social Care in the Community, 12 (1). pp. 1-24. ISSN 0966-0410

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Access to, and provision of, information is key to reducing health inequalities in health and social care. However, information is not always accessible and does not always meet the needs of specific groups. One such group is people who are visually impaired. The aim of the present study was to identify the health information needs of visually impaired people, and highlight major gaps in the literature. A systematic review of the literature was undertaken following, where possible, the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination framework. Modifications included the sources searched, the critical appraisal checklist used (Critical Skills Training in Appraisal for Librarians) and the method of data synthesis. Out of the 1114 references identified, only 16 met the inclusion criteria. Quality of reporting of the literature was poor, and this must be taken into consideration when interpreting the findings of this review. The majority of studies were concerned with information for healthy living (e.g. health promotion). The focus of the remaining studies was on information about visual impairment or coping with visual impairment, and about accessing health services (e.g. medication labels and appointment letters). The majority of studies conducted to date have concentrated on the format of information. There are surprisingly few empirical studies which have examined the health information needs of this group. A number of gaps in the literature have been identified. These relate to the types of health information, non-format aspects of information (e.g. content and timing), sources of health and social care information, treating visually impaired people as a heterogeneous group, and recognising the value of actively involving visually impaired people in the research process. Although this review has identified a number of implications for practice, the paucity of evidence places a heavier onus on future research. Visually impaired people are likely to have unique health and social care information needs which are worthy of exploration in their own right.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: drug labelling; health promotion; health service needs and demand; information needs; meta-analysis; review literature; visually impaired persons
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Information School (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Information Studies
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2009 14:10
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2009 14:10
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2524.2004.00460.x
Status: Published
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1365-2524.2004.00460.x
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9133

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