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Readability assessment of internet-based patient education materials related to endoscopic sinus surgery

Authors

  • Deepa V. Cherla BS,

    1. Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.
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  • Saurin Sanghvi BS,

    1. Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.
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  • Osamah J. Choudhry BA,

    1. Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.
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  • James K. Liu MD,

    1. Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.
    2. Center for Skull Base and Pituitary Surgery, Neurological Institute of New Jersey, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.
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  • Jean Anderson Eloy MD, FACS

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.
    2. Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.
    3. Center for Skull Base and Pituitary Surgery, Neurological Institute of New Jersey, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.
    • Assistant Professor and Vice Chairman, Director of Rhinology and Sinus Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, 90 Bergen St., Suite 8100, Newark, NJ 07103
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  • Institutional review board approval: none required.

  • The authors have no funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Abstract

Objectives/Hypothesis:

Numerous professional societies, clinical practices, and hospitals provide Internet-based patient education materials (PEMs) to the general public, but not all of this information is written at a reading level appropriate for the average patient. The National Institutes of Health and the US Department of Health and Human Services recommend that PEMs be written at or below the sixth-grade level. Our purpose was to assess the readability of endoscopic sinus surgery (ESS)-related PEMs available on the Internet and compare readability levels of PEMs provided by three sources: professional societies, clinical practices, and hospitals.

Study Design:

A descriptive and correlational design was used for this study.

Methods:

The readability of 31 ESS-related PEMs was assessed with four different readability indices: Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL), Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES), Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG), and Gunning Frequency of Gobbledygook (Gunning FOG). Averages were evaluated against national recommendations and between each source using analysis of variance and t tests.

Results:

The majority of PEMs (96.8%) were written above the recommended sixth-grade reading level, based on FKGL (P < .001). Only one article (3.2%) had an FKGL at or below the sixth-grade level. The mean readability values were: FRES 47.1 ± 13.4, FKGL 10.7 ± 2.4, SMOG 13.7 ± 1.6, and Gunning FOG 12.4 ± 2.7.

Conclusions:

Current Internet-based PEMs related to ESS, regardless of source type, were written well above the recommended sixth-grade level. Materials from the hospitals/university-affiliated websites had lower readability scores, but were still above recommended levels. Web-based PEMs pertaining to ESS should be written with the average patient in mind. Laryngoscope, 2012

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