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Gillian Treadwell; Analysis of the readability of websites related to glaucoma. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(12):5589.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Patients have traditionally relied on their physicians for education regarding health conditions, however, with the ubiquitous nature of the internet and growing time constraints on doctor-patient interactions, online resources are playing an increasingly important role in patient education. These online resources may not always be easily understood by their target audience. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the readability of online reading materials for one of the most common causes of blindness worldwide, glaucoma.
The term “glaucoma” 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 11.05, well outside of the fourth to sixth grade reading level recommended by the American Medical Association (AMA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) for patient education materials. None of the ten websites fell within this recommended reading level. The mean FRE score was 44.8, which corresponds with a “difficult” level of readability.
None of the reading materials designed for patient education evaluated in this study fit within the reading level recommended by the NIH and AMA. More than one third of American adults are considered to have fair to poor health literacy. Patients with poor health literacy and poor understanding of their chronic medical conditions, including glaucoma, have poorer treatment compliance and greater disease progression than those with adequate health literacy. Physicians and health care providers need to be more aware of the complexity of available health information as patients often use these websites to guide them in their health decision making process.
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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