A quantitative readability analysis of patient education resources from gastroenterology society websites
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- Hansberry, D.R., Patel, S.R., Agarwal, P. et al. Int J Colorectal Dis (2017) 32: 917. doi:10.1007/s00384-016-2730-3
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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.