Readability assessment of the American Rhinologic Society patient education materials
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
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.
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.
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.
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.