Introduction: The use of online materials by healthcare consumers to access medical information presents unique challenges. Most Americans have access to the Internet and frequently turn to it as a first-line resource.
Methods: The readability of online patient education materials was evaluated. Materials provided by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) were assessed using the Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level evaluations with Microsoft Office Word software. Unnecessary formatting was removed and the readability was evaluated with the Spelling and Grammar function.
Results: A total of 51 sections from 3 different websites were analyzed. Overall, the average values of the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (12.7) and Flesch Reading Ease (35.7) indicated that most Americans would not be able to fully comprehend this material (Table 1). A one-way ANOVA was performed to determine differences in the Flesch Reading Ease amongst the subsections and the 3 websites overall.
Conclusions: Results indicate that the language used on materials provided by the NINDS, CDC, and AANS is perhaps too advanced for the average American to fully comprehend. Website revisions might be beneficial for improved patient utilization.
Patient Care: This research will bring awareness to the fact that the healthcare-oriented education resources that patients with a spinal cord injury seek are often written at a level that the average American cannot understand.
Learning Objectives: By the conclusion of this session, participants should be able to: 1) Describe the importance of the ability for patients to understand healthcare oriented education materials, 2) Discuss, in small groups, the effect of patient education materials on clinical outcomes, 3) Identify an effective strategy to create patient education materials at a level that the average American can comprehend.
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