Simpler drug warning labels are easier to understand

Many drugs are off limits to pregnant women because they can harm fetuses. But not all drug labels state this warning clearly enough for some women to understand it. When researchers tested the standard drug label that warns pregnant women to avoid a drug against a new text version and a text-and-icon version of the label, most women best understood the combination version. This study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (T32 HS00078). Researchers interviewed 132 women at outpatient care clinics in Shreveport, LA, and Chicago, IL. Ninety-four percent of the women were able to understand the message of the enhanced text (Do not use if you are pregnant, think you are pregnant, or breast feeding) when it accompanied an icon that was a silhouette of a pregnant woman with a slash through it. In contrast, just 76 percent of women comprehended the standard label and 79 percent understood the enhanced text alone.