Comparison of literacy level of patients in a VA arthritis center with the reading level required by educational materials


  • Ingegerd Larson MS, RN,

    Nurse, Corresponding author
    1. Philadelphia VA Medical Center's Arthritis and Immunology Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
    • Rheumatology-Immunology Center, VA Medical Center, University and Woodland Avenues, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
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  • H. Ralph Schumacher Jr. MD

    Professor of Medicine
    1. University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Director, Arthritis and Immunology Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Low literacy is a problem in a large segment of our population. We tested the reading levels of a group of 100 randomly chosen clinic and hospitalized patients seen in an urban Veterans Administration Arthritis and Immunology Center. The standardized Jastak Wide Range Achievement Test, revised level 2 (WRAT-R2), was utilized to determine the reading level appropriateness of Arthritis Foundation literature for this population. Arthritis Foundation literature by our testing with the McLaughlin's SMOG grading readability formula was found to be at the 8th- to 13th-grade level. Nearly 51% of our patients read below the 10th-grade level and 31% below the 7th-grade level. The Arthritis Foundation literature reading level may be too advanced for a significant number of our patients. These results may also have implications for other patient education literature and other written materials such as instructions on prescriptions.