Readability and Suitability Assessment of Patient Education Materials in Rheumatic Diseases

Authors

  • Rennie L. Rhee,

    Corresponding author
    • VA Medical Center and University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
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  • Joan M. Von Feldt,

    1. VA Medical Center and University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
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  • H. Ralph Schumacher,

    1. VA Medical Center and University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
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    • Dr. Schumacher has received fees for his role as Section Editor for UpToDate.

  • Peter A. Merkel

    1. VA Medical Center and University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
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    • Dr. Merkel has received fees (less than $10,000 each) for his role as a contributing author for the American College of Rheumatology, UpToDate, the Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium, and the Vasculitis Foundation.


Division of Rheumatology, University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Civic Center Boulevard, 8 Penn Tower, Philadelphia, PA 19104. E-mail: rennie.rhee@uphs.upenn.edu

Abstract

Objective

Web-based patient education materials and printed pamphlets are frequently used by providers to inform patients about their rheumatic disease. Little attention has been given to the readability and appropriateness of patient materials. The objective of this study was to examine the readability and suitability of commonly used patient education materials for osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and vasculitis.

Methods

Five or 6 popular patient resources for each disease were chosen for evaluation. Readability was measured using the Flesch-Kincaid reading grade level and suitability was determined by the Suitability Assessment of Materials (SAM), a score that considers characteristics such as content, graphics, layout/topography, and cultural appropriateness. Three different reviewers rated the SAM score and means were used in the analysis.

Results

Twenty-three resources written on the 4 diseases were evaluated. The education material for all 4 diseases studied had readability above the eighth-grade level and readability did not differ among the diseases. Only 5 of the 23 resources received superior suitability scores, and 3 of these 5 resources were written for OA. All 4 diseases received adequate suitability scores, with OA having the highest mean suitability score.

Conclusion

Most patient education materials for rheumatic diseases are written at readability levels above the recommended sixth-grade reading level and have only adequate suitability. Developing more appropriate educational resources for patients with rheumatic diseases may improve patient comprehension.

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