Tips for Choosing Patient Education Resources | Health Education | UC Davis Health

Tips for Choosing Patient Education Resources

When seeking patient education resources, it is preferable to start with recognized UC Davis Health resources, such as HealthWise, Emmi, and established UC Davis / HME handouts. If those resources do not address the educational needs of the patient, an internet search may help identify relevant educational support materials. When doing so, the care team member should evaluate resources for their appropriateness, accuracy, and credibility. The table below describes points to consider in the patient education resource evaluation process. 


Who is the author? What is their point of view?


Seek out recognized, nonbiased authorities in the field. This may include materials from government authorities, foundations, nonprofits such as American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, National Kidney Foundation. Look for websites ending in: 

  • .gov – a government owned/operated website 
  • .org – a website associated with an organization 
  • .edu – a website associated with an educational institution  


  • .com – a commercial website 
  • Wikipedia 
  • Materials co-branded with company’s logos (ie., a pharmaceutical company logo), unless it is a patient-facing manual for that company’s product that the patient already owns (such as a glucometer) 


Why was the source created?  Who is the intended audience? 


Materials should be objective and, ideally, written for patients 

  • Is this a persuasive or educational resource?  
  • Does it present information in an objective manner?  
  • Is the content presented in a manner that is relevant for the patient? 


Where was it published?  In what medium? Is the health literacy level appropriate for the patient? 


Look for materials on reputable sites, in material formats that fit the patient’s needs. 

  • Where did you find the resource? Is it located on a well-recognized organization’s website, is it self-published, or were there outside reviewers?  
  • Does the medium (ie., PDF handout, video, etc…) fit the educational needs of the patient?  
  • Is the overall appearance up to date? 

 Health literacy considerations: 

  • Is it easy to read? Is the font readable (ie., minimum size 11 or 12, Arial or Old-Style Berkeley fonts)?  
  • Does it use plain language? Does it define specialized terms?  
  • Do photos appear appropriate for age and culture of the patient?  
  • Are tables appropriate for the patient’s health literacy level?  
  • Is there enough white space? 


How is it relevant to what you are looking for?  What is its scope? 


Materials should be pertinent to the educational needs of the patient 

  • Does it cover the primary points you aim to discuss with the patient?  
  • Is it a general overview or in-depth analysis?  
  • Does the scope match the patient’s information needs?


When was it written?  Has it been updated?


Content should be current and up to date. 

  • What has changed in the field since the publication date / last update?


Did the author cite their sources?  Who did they cite?


Materials should be evidence-based and objective 

  • Did the author appropriately represent the context of their cited sources?  
  • Are they cherry-picking facts to support their own arguments?


Multidisciplinary Patient Education Committee. (2020, August). Writing tips & health literacy guidelines. 

Perdue Online Writing Lab. (2021). Evaluating digital resources. 

University of California at Berkeley (2021, Feb 16). Evaluating resources.