Irish Journal of Medical Science

, Volume 180, Issue 1, pp 139–142

Readability level of patient information leaflets for older people

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11845-010-0624-x

Cite this article as:
Cronin, M., O’Hanlon, S. & O’Connor, M. Ir J Med Sci (2011) 180: 139. doi:10.1007/s11845-010-0624-x

Abstract

Background

Limited literacy is associated with a nearly twofold increase in mortality in older patients.

Aims

The aim was to assess the readability level of patient information leaflets in Ireland.

Methods

The SMOG formula is a validated tool to assess readability of text, providing an estimate of the years of education needed to understand a piece of writing. We evaluated 45 common patient information leaflets for older people, and compared them to newspapers.

Results

The mean readability level of the patient education leaflets was 12.57 (range 9.4–16.33). The mean readability level of broadsheet newspapers was 12. A majority of patient education materials are written at an excessively high readability level.

Conclusion

Patient education information should be aimed at an appropriate level for the target audience. This is of particular relevance in the older population, who are at a higher risk of inadequate or marginal health literacy.

Keywords

Older people Readability Patient information leaflets Literacy Patient education 

Copyright information

© Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cork University HospitalCorkIreland

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