Background: The average readability level in the USA is a sixth grade level and for patients with chronic disease it is lower. Cirrhosis is a prevalent chronic disease that requires complex knowledge and instructions to manage. No research has been done about the understandability of online educational content for cirrhotic patients. Patients can find online materials curated by both general health platforms and high-volume liver transplant centers, and thus these materials were analyzed.
Methods: After determining exclusion criteria, the websites of the top 20 general health platform results and the websites of the top 20 high-volume hepatology centers were analyzed. Readability was assessed using the Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (Audiovisual Materials) (PEMAT-A/V), Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level tests, word counts, sentence counts, words per sentence, and time for an average sixth grader to read.
Results: The mean grade level readabilities were 12.3 and 11.3 for the general resources and the transplant center resources, respectively. The online resources ranged from 9 to 389 sentences requiring an average of 9.8 min to read. The mean PEMAT-A/V scores were 70.05% for the general resources and 72.45% for the transplant center resources. There was a statistically significant difference in the Flesch-Kincaid grade level, sentence number, words per sentence, word count, and time for an average sixth grader to read the general resources and transplant center resources (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: The online resources both from health platforms and hepatology centers available to patients with cirrhosis are too long and complex and underscore the need for simpler and shorter resources.