International Journal of Colorectal Disease

, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 917–920

A quantitative readability analysis of patient education resources from gastroenterology society websites

  • David R. Hansberry
  • Sahil R. Patel
  • Prateek Agarwal
  • Nitin Agarwal
  • Elizabeth S. John
  • Ann M. John
  • James C. Reynolds
Short Communication

DOI: 10.1007/s00384-016-2730-3

Cite this article as:
Hansberry, D.R., Patel, S.R., Agarwal, P. et al. Int J Colorectal Dis (2017) 32: 917. doi:10.1007/s00384-016-2730-3


Background and aims

The lay public frequently access and rely on online information as a source of their medical knowledge. Many medical societies are unaware of national patient education material guidelines and subsequently fail to meet them. The goal of the present study was to evaluate the readability of patient education materials within the medical field of gastroenterology.


Two hundred fourteen articles pertaining to patient education materials were evaluated with ten well-established readability scales. The articles were available on the websites for the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE), the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG), and the NIH section National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Tukey’s honest significant difference (HSD) post hoc analysis were conducted to determine any differences in level of readability between websites.


The 214 articles were written at an 11.8 ± 2.1 grade level with a range of 8.0 to 16.0 grade level. A one-way ANOVA and Tukey’s HSD post hoc analysis determined the ACG was written at a significantly (p < 0.05) more difficult level when compared to the AGA, the BSG, and the NIDDK websites. No differences were noted when comparing the ASGE website.


None of the patient education materials were written at a level that met national guidelines. If the materials are redrafted, the general American public will likely have a greater understanding of the gastroenterology content.


Gastroenterology Readability Health literacy Internet Patient education 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Hansberry
    • 1
  • Sahil R. Patel
    • 2
  • Prateek Agarwal
    • 3
  • Nitin Agarwal
    • 4
  • Elizabeth S. John
    • 5
  • Ann M. John
    • 6
  • James C. Reynolds
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyThomas Jefferson University HospitalsPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Hahnemann University HospitalDrexel University College of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Perelman School of Medicine at the University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Neurological SurgeryUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical CenterPittsburghUSA
  5. 5.Department of MedicineRutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical SchoolNew BrunswickUSA
  6. 6.Department of MedicineRutgers University, New Jersey Medical SchoolNewarkUSA
  7. 7.Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Perelman School of MedicineUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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