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A comprehensive patient information datafile of 320 topics has been developed, subserving the domains of medicine, surgery, gynaecology and paediatrics. The system was designed as loose-leaf sheets capable of being photocopied, as well as a computer-based datafile. In a four-practice study, 73% of consecutive general practice attenders could be issued with the relevant disorder or procedure information sheet. With a questionnaire return rate of 79%, 886 patients rated the three criteria of readability, understandability and usefulness of their leaflets as very or quite easy and very or quite useful in more than 94% of instances. This system could be a valuable adjunct to patient education in both general and hospital practice settings.