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.
Falconer N, Reicherter EA, Billek-Sawhney B, Chesbro S. An Analysis of the Readability of Educational Materials on the Consumer Webpage of a Health Professional Organization: Considerations for Practice. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. 2011 Jul 01;9(3), Article 6.