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The Experience of Chemotherapy Teaching and Readability of Chemotherapy Educational Materials for Women with Breast Cancer


Chemotherapy is one of the most common forms of treatment for women with breast cancer. While chemotherapy is often effective, managing side effects can be challenging. Chemotherapy education is critical in assisting patients to manage side effects and to improve the treatment experience. However, materials are often not thoroughly assessed for readability and format which could be problematic for patients learning self-care while in treatment. We used a mixed-method design to illuminate chemotherapy teaching and focused on readability and format of education materials. We scored the materials using three readability assessments: (1) Flesch Reading Ease (FRE), (2) Flesch-Kincaid (F-K), and (3) a Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG). We evaluated the format of the materials using Suitability Assessment of Materials (SAM) guidelines. Lastly, we used thematic analysis to describe the experience of 37 women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy education. The mean readability of the materials ranged from “difficult” to “fairly difficult” based on the FRE scoring, and the material was written on a 9th- to 13th-grade reading level. Most of the materials scored as “adequate” using SAM guidelines but lacked incorporation of graphics or illustrations. The thematic analysis revealed three major findings: (1) finding control in learning, (2) receiving unexpected support, and (3) learning in unforeseen ways. Nurses need to supplement chemotherapy education materials with individualized teaching to ensure comprehension. Additionally, nurses and website developers may want to consider implementing culturally appropriate information and use videos to combat challenging readability.

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This research was supported by a training grant sponsored by Susan G. Komen® (Co-PIs: Susan Steck and Angela Murphy) which supported student development in the field of reducing breast cancer disparities (GTDR17500160).

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Correspondence to Pearman D. Parker.

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Parker, P.D., Heiney, S.P., Friedman, D.B. et al. The Experience of Chemotherapy Teaching and Readability of Chemotherapy Educational Materials for Women with Breast Cancer. J Canc Educ 36, 47–55 (2021).

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