Various professional societies, clinical practices, hospitals, and health care-related Web sites provide Internet-based patient education material (IPEMs) to the general public. However, this information may be written above the 6th-grade reading level recommended by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The purpose of this study is to assess the readability of facial fracture (FF)-related IPEMs and compare readability levels of IPEMs provided by four sources: professional societies, clinical practices, hospitals, and miscellaneous sources.
Analysis of IPEMs on FFs available on Google.com.
The readability of 41 FF-related IPEMs was assessed with four 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.
Only 4.9% of IPEMs were written at or below the 6th-grade reading level, based on FKGL. The mean readability scores were: FRES 54.10, FKGL 9.89, SMOG 12.73, and Gunning FOG 12.98, translating into FF-related IPEMs being written at a “difficult” writing level, which is above the level of reading understanding of the average American adult.
IPEMs related to FFs are written above the recommended 6th-grade reading level. Consequently, this information would be difficult to understand by the average US patient.