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Abstract

The readability level of many patient education materials is too high for patients to comprehend, placing the patient’s health at risk. Since health professionals often recommend Internet-based patient education resources, they must ensure that the readability of information provided to consumers is at an appropriate level. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the readability of educational brochures found on the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) consumer website. Methods: Fourteen educational brochures on the APTA website in March 2008 were analyzed using the following assessments: Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, Flesch Reading Ease, Fry Readability Formula, Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG), Checklist for Patient Education Materials, and Consumer Health Web Site Evaluation Checklist. Results: According to the Flesch-Kincaid and Flesch Reading Ease, over 90% of the brochures were written at greater than a sixth grade level. The mean reading level was grade 10.2 (range = 3.1 to 12) with a Reading Ease score between 31.5 to 79.9. Using the SMOG formula, the brochures had a mean reading level of grade 11.5 (range = 9 to 13). The Fry Readability showed that 85% of the brochures were written higher than a sixth grade level, with a mean reading level of grade 9.5 (range = 6 to 14). Conclusion: Findings suggest that most of the consumer education information available on the website of this health professional organization had readability scores that were too high for average consumers to read.

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