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Mazeyar Saboori, Gillian Treadwell, Michael Jason Siegel; Assessment of Readability of Websites Related to Cataracts. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(12):2011.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Traditionally, patients have relied on their physicians for education on their medical conditions; however, easier and more widespread access to the internet has allowed for online resources to play an increasing role in patient education. The purpose of this study is to assess the readability of online patient-oriented literature related to cataracts.
The term “cataract” was entered into the Google search engine and the top 10 English results containing original material were evaluated. The body of the text of these websites was analyzed using the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Grade Level (FKGL) and the Flesch Reading Ease (FRE) tests. Title headings and image captions were excluded from analysis.
Readability assessment using the FKGL test demonstrated that the mean reading level for the websites analyzed was 10.3. None of the assessed websites had a readability score within the published guidelines of 4-6th grade level. The lowest grade level of the websites analyzed was 7.9, published by NIH. The mean FRE score was 48.3, which corresponds with a “difficult” level of readability.
Based on the analysis of websites queried in our study, online patient-oriented information regarding cataracts is written at a level above the level of understanding of the average patient. These findings are in line with previous studies assessing readability of materials designed for patient education in other medical specialties. Access to easily understandable medical information may empower patients to make more informed health decisions. It is important that healthcare providers realize that online health information may not be easily comprehended by all patients. Readability scores should be considered when writing patient-oriented educational materials.
This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2016 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Seattle, Wash., May 1-5, 2016.
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