Post-print of: Newell, S, Girgis, A & Sanson-Fisher, RW 1995, 'Recall, retention, utilisation and acceptability of written health education materials: a pilot study to compare two distribution strategies', Australian Journal of Public Health, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 368-374.
Objective: To investigate the impact of two distribution strategies (mailout and general
practitioner(GP)) on the recall of receipt, retention, utilisation and perceived acceptability of
written health education materials.
Design: Structured interviews were conducted with randomly selected individuals who had
received written health education materials.
Setting: Two semi-rural communities in New South Wales, Australia.
Subjects: 512 people were randomly selected to take part in the study: 212 from general
practitioners' surgeries and 300 from the electoral register. 55 (10.7%) of these were not
contactable. 386 (84.5%) of those contactable consented to the survey.
Interventions: 300 people received the education materials through the mail in a personallyaddressed
envelope. Another 212 received the materials from their general practitioner at the
end of a routine consultation.
Main Outcome Measures: Recall of receipt, retention, utilisation and perceived acceptability
rates 2 weeks after distribution of the materials.
Results: 77.4% of the mailout group and 90.9% of the GP group recalled receiving the
materials; 75.4% of the mailout group and 93.3% of the GP group reported keeping the booklet;
66.7% of the mailout group and 56% of the GP group reported reading the booklet. Perceived
acceptability of the materials was high, with over 80% of respondents finding them very or
fairly eye-catching, believable, interesting and easy to read.
Conclusion: Although general practitioner distribution led to higher rates of receipt and
retention, mailout distribution, via the electoral register, led to higher utilisation rates and
allowed access to a larger proportion of the population, resulting in more individuals having
been exposed to the education message.