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Elizabeth Sheena John, Ann Mary John, David R. Hansberry, Chirag Patel; Readability Assessment of Online Ophthalmology Information - A Comprehensive Comparison of Education Resources. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(13):5337.
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While there is certainly a wide array of health information for ophthalmology patients on the Internet, it is important to consider the readability of this information to determine if such sources are in fact facilitating understanding. Consequently, this study’s purpose is to assess and compare the readability of patient education materials available from three websites - aao.org (American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)), aapos.org (American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS)), and rcophth.ac.uk, (The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCO)).
Validated readability formulas were utilized to assess the readability of these online sources. A total of 86 articles from AAO, 106 articles from AAPOS, and 21 articles from RCO were analyzed using the following readability scales: Coleman-Liau Index, Flesch Kincaid Grade Level, Flesch Reading Ease, FORCAST, Fry Graph, Gunning Fog Index, New Dale-Chall, New Fog Count, Raygor Reading Estimate, and SMOG. A one-way ANOVA and a Tukey Honestly Statistically Different (HSD) post hoc analysis was performed for all ANOVA results with a p < 0.05.
The AAO, AAPOS, and RCO websites have patient education material written at an 11.4±1.8, 12.2±2.9, and 9.9±3.7 grade level, respectively. A one-way ANOVA demonstrated statistical differences between the level of readability of information available on each of the 3 websites, F(2,1914) = 445.86, p = 0. A Tukey HSD post hoc analysis confirmed statistical differences between each of the three individual websites.
The RCO website proved the most readable of the 3 websites. However, none of the websites fully met the National Institutes of Health and American Medical Associations guidelines that patient education resources should be written between a 3rd to 7th grade level. While other factors like the use of multimedia may enhance patient understanding, the textual component of the patient education material available on these websites could be rewritten to provide greater benefit to ophthalmology patients.
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