Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Readability


OBJECTIVE:Recognition of the complexity of asthma management has led to the development of asthma treatment guidelines that include the recommendation that all pediatric asthma patients receive a written asthma action plan. We assessed the readability, suitability, and characteristics of asthma action plans, elements that contribute to the effectiveness of action plan use, particularly for those with limited literacy.METHODS:This was a descriptive study of 30 asthma action plans (27 state Department of Health (DOH)-endorsed, 3 national action plans endorsed by 6 states). Outcome measures: (1) readability (as assessed by Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid, Gunning Fog, Simple Measure of Gobbledygook, Forcast), (2) suitability (Suitability Assessment of Materials [SAM], adequate: ≥0.4; unsuitable: <0.4), (3) action plan characteristics (peak flow vs symptom-based, symptoms, recommended actions).RESULTS:Mean (SD) overall readability grade level was 7.2 (1.1) (range = 5.7-9.8); 70.0% were sixth-grade level or higher. Mean (SD) suitability score was 0.74 (0.14). Overall, all action plans were found to be adequate, although 40.0% had an unsuitable score in at least 1 factor. The highest percent of unsuitable scores were found in the categories of layout/typography (30.0%), learning stimulation/motivation (26.7%), and graphics (13.3%). There were no statistically significant differences between the average grade level or SAM score of state DOH developed action plans and those from or adapted from national organizations. Plans varied with respect to terms used, symptoms included, and recommended actions.CONCLUSIONS:Specific improvements in asthma action plans could maximize patient and parent understanding of appropriate asthma management and could particularly benefit individuals with limited literacy skills.

Concepts: Statistics, Statistical significance, Management, Gunning fog index, Readability tests, Readability, Flesch–Kincaid readability test, Planning


BackgroundInformed consent in research is partly achieved through the use of information sheets. There is a perception however that these information sheets are long and complex. The recommended reading level for patient information is grade 6, or 11-12 years old.AimsTo investigate whether the readability of participant information sheets has changed over time, whether particular study characteristics are related to poorer readability and whether readability and other study characteristics are related to successful study recruitment.MethodWe obtained 522 information sheets from the UK National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network: Mental Health portfolio database and study principal investigators. Readability was assessed with the Flesch reading index and the Grade level test.ResultsInformation sheets increased in length over the study period. The mean grade level across all information sheets was 9.8, or 15-16 years old. A high level of patient involvement was associated with more recruitment success and studies involving pharmaceutical or device interventions were the least successful. The complexity of information sheets had little bearing on successful recruitment.ConclusionsInformation sheets are far more complex than the recommended reading level of grade 6 for patient information. The disparity may be exacerbated by an increasing focus on legal content. Researchers would benefit from clear guidance from ethics committees on writing succinctly and accessibly and how to balance the competing legal issues with the ability of participants to understand what a study entails.

Concepts: Medicine, Perception, Sense, Writing, Cultural studies, Abstraction, Readability, Health research


Wikipedia, a multilingual online encyclopedia, is a common starting point for patient medical searches. As its articles can be authored and edited by anyone worldwide, the credibility of the medical content of Wikipedia has been openly questioned. Wikipedia medical articles have also been criticized as too advanced for the general public. This study assesses the comprehensiveness, reliability, and readability of nephrology articles on Wikipedia. The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related problems, 10th Edition (ICD-10) diagnostic codes for nephrology (N00-N29.8) were used as a topic list to investigate the English Wikipedia database. Comprehensiveness was assessed by the proportion of ICD-10 codes that had corresponding articles. Reliability was measured by both the number of references per article and proportion of references from substantiated sources. Finally, readability was assessed using three validated indices (Flesch-Kincaid grade level, Automated readability index, and Flesch reading ease). Nephrology articles on Wikipedia were relatively comprehensive, with 70.5% of ICD-10 codes being represented. The articles were fairly reliable, with 7.1 ± 9.8 (mean ± SD) references per article, of which 59.7 ± 35.0% were substantiated references. Finally, all three readability indices determined that nephrology articles are written at a college level. Wikipedia is a comprehensive and fairly reliable medical resource for nephrology patients that is written at a college reading level. Accessibility of this information for the general public may be improved by hosting it at alternative Wikipedias targeted at a lower reading level, such as the Simple English Wikipedia.

Concepts: Writing, Gunning fog index, Readability tests, Readability, Flesch–Kincaid readability test, English Wikipedia, Simple English Wikipedia, Wikipedia


The degree to which patients are empowered by written educational materials depends on the text’s readability level and the accuracy of the information provided. The association of a website’s affiliation or focus on treatment modality with its readability and accuracy has yet to be thoroughly elucidated.

Concepts: Cancer, Weight loss, The Association, Writing, Pancreatic cancer, Readability, Health informatics, EHealth


Whole-exome and whole-genome sequencing (WES, WGS) can generate an unprecedented amount of complex information, making the informed consent (IC) process challenging. The aim of our study was to assess the readability of English IC forms for clinical whole-exome and whole-genome sequencing using the SMOG and Flesch-Kincaid formulas. We analysed 36 forms, most of which were from US providers. The median readability grade levels were 14.75 (the SMOG formula) and 12.2 (the Flesch-Kincaid formula); these values indicate the years of education after which a person would be able to understand a text studied. All forms studied seem to fail to meet the average recommended readability grade level of 8 (e.g. by Institutional Review Boards of US medical schools) for IC forms, indicating that the content of the forms may not be comprehensible to many patients. The sections aimed at health care professionals (HCPs) in the forms indicate that HCPs should be responsible for explaining IC information to the patients. However, WES and WGS may be increasingly offered by primary care professionals who may not (yet) have sufficient training to be able to communicate effectively with patients about genomics. Therefore, to secure an adequate, truly informed consent process, the task of developing good, legible examples of IC forms along with educating HCPs in genomics should be taken seriously, and adequate resources should be allocated to enable these tasks.

Concepts: Health care, Health care provider, Clinical trial, Informed consent, Writing, Readability tests, Readability


Objective: Almost 80% of Australian Internet users seek out health information online so the readability of this information is important. This study aimed to evaluate the readability of Australian online health information and determine if it matches the average reading level of Australians. Methods: Two hundred and fifty-one web pages with information on 12 common health conditions were identified across sectors. Readability was assessed by the Flesch-Kincaid (F-K), Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG) and Flesch Reading Ease (FRE) formulas, with grade 8 adopted as the average Australian reading level. Results: The average reading grade measured by F-K and SMOG was 10.54 and 12.12 respectively. The mean FRE was 47.54, a ‘difficult-to-read’ score. Only 0.4% of web pages were written at or below grade 8 according to SMOG. Information on dementia was the most difficult to read overall, while obesity was the most difficult among government websites. Conclusions and implications: The findings suggest that the readability of Australian health websites is above the average Australian levels of reading. A quantifiable guideline is needed to ensure online health information accommodates the reading needs of the general public to effectively use the Internet as an enabler of health literacy.

Concepts: Measurement, Arithmetic mean, Writing, World Wide Web, Website, Readability tests, Readability


Objective. To assess the reading levels required to complete patient-reported outcome measures (PROs) commonly used in rheumatology clinical and research settings. Methods. Ten PROs written in English were evaluated. Four reviewers critiqued each measure blindly using two standardized readability indexes and a final readability score for each PRO was agreed. Results. Only six of the PROs met the recommended reading level for health education literature. Conclusion. Many people completing PROs will not be able to understand what they are answering and will be unable to give an accurate perspective on their condition.

Concepts: Educational psychology, Psychometrics, Writing, Readability, Literacy


Approximately 90 million American adults have literacy skills that test below a high school reading level. Websites written above this level can pose a challenge for those seeking online information about prostate cancer treatment options. In this study we determine the readability of selected websites using a systematic search process and validated readability formulas.

Concepts: Cancer, Metastasis, Prostate cancer, Radiation therapy, Screening, Writing, High school, Readability


This study determined the completeness, accuracy, and reading level of Wikipedia patient drug information compared with the corresponding United States product insert medication guides.

Concepts: United States, Pharmaceutical drug, Readability


The relative ease of Internet access and its seemingly endless amount of information creates opportunities for Americans to research medical diseases, diagnoses, and treatment plans. Our objective is quantitative evaluation of the readability level of patient education websites, written for the lay public, pertaining to common radiologic diagnostic test, and radiologic diagnoses specific to abdominal imaging.

Concepts: Psychology, Medical terms, Diagnosis, Evaluation methods, Physical quantities, Writing, Internet, Readability