Readability assessment of the American Rhinologic Society patient education materials

Authors

  • Khushabu Kasabwala BS,

    1. Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ
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  • Poonam Misra BS,

    1. Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ
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  • David R. Hansberry PhD,

    1. Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ
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  • Nitin Agarwal BS,

    1. Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ
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  • Soly Baredes MD,

    1. Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ
    2. Center for Skull Base and Pituitary Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ
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  • Michael Setzen MD, FACS, FAAP,

    1. Rhinology Section, North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, NY, NY
    2. Department of Otolaryngology, New York University School of Medicine, NY, NY
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  • Jean Anderson Eloy MD, FACS

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ
    2. Center for Skull Base and Pituitary Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ
    • Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ
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  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report; additionally, none of the authors are directly involved in the development of the content or editing of the ARS website.

Correspondence to: Jean Anderson Eloy, MD, FACS, Rhinology and Sinus Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, 90 Bergen St., Suite 8100, Newark, NJ 07103; e-mail: Jean.Anderson.Eloy@gmail.com

Abstract

Background

The extensive amount of medical literature available on the Internet is frequently accessed by patients. To effectively contribute to healthcare decision-making, these online resources should be worded at a level that is readable by any patient seeking information. The American Medical Association and National Institutes of Health recommend the readability of patient information material should be between a 4th to 6th grade level. In this study, we evaluate the readability of online patient education information available from the American Rhinologic Society (ARS) website using 9 different assessment tools that analyze the materials for reading ease and grade level of the target audience.

Methods

Online patient education material from the ARS was downloaded in February 2012 and assessed for level of readability using the Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG) Grading, Coleman-Liau Index, Gunning-Fog Index, FORCAST formula, Raygor Readability Estimate, the Fry Graph, and the New Dale-Chall Readability Formula. Each article was pasted as plain text into a Microsoft® Word® document and each subsection was analyzed using the software package Readability Studio Professional Edition Version 2012.1.

Results

All healthcare education materials assessed were written between a 9th grade and graduate reading level and were considered “difficult” to read by the assessment scales.

Conclusion

Online patient education materials on the ARS website are written above the recommended 6th grade level and may require revision to make them easily understood by a broader audience.

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