Objective: The printed medium is a popular method to disseminate health information to the South African public. Reader-focused research indicates, however, that most printed health messages do not transfer information successfully to target audiences. As the first phase of an ongoing investigation into the provision of information to schizophrenia patients and their caregivers in South Africa, the aim of this study is to provide a checklist, to apply it for the evaluation of printed brochures about schizophrenia, and to make recommendations for best practices when using the printed medium for the dissemination of information about schizophrenia in South Africa.
Method: A text-focused evaluation method is applied, using the adapted version of the suitability assessment of material (SAM-test) to evaluate the effectiveness of brochures disseminating information about schizophrenia. A Fry readability test and a Cloze test for comprehension were also used to verify the results of the checklist.
Results: The findings indicate to which degree brochures about schizophrenia do not conform to general accepted criteria for effective printed health messages. The readability level of the brochures indicated a target audience of at least university graduates which makes them unsuitable as information material for the general South African public.
Conclusion: Providing that producers of printed health messages adhere to readily available guidelines, including consultation with the target audience and a sensitivity for South Africa' s diverse social reality, the printed medium can be applied successfully and cost effectively in the South African context.