Readability, content, and quality assessment of web-based patient education materials addressing neuraxial labor analgesia

Samir K. Patel*, Elisa J. Gordon, Cynthia A. Wong, William A. Grobman, Haley Goucher, Paloma Toledo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Studies in a variety of disciplines have shown that the readability of Web-based patient education materials is above that of the sixth grade reading level recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The aim of this study was to evaluate the readability, content, and quality of English-and Spanish-language patient education materials addressing neuraxial labor analgesia. METHODS: The websites of 122 U.S. academic medical centers with obstetric anesthesia divisions were searched for English-and Spanish-language patient education materials. Readability of English-language patient education materials was assessed with 3 validated indices: Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, Simple Measure of Gobbledygook, and Gunning Frequency of Gobbledygook. Readability of Spanish-language patient education materials was assessed using the Spanish Lexile Measure. A 1-sample t test was used to evaluate the mean readability level against the recommended sixth grade reading level. A scoring matrix was developed to evaluate the content of patient education materials. Website quality was assessed using the Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool for Print. RESULTS: We identified 72 English-language and 29 Spanish-language patient education materials. The mean readability levels of all patient education materials were higher than the recommended sixth grade reading level using all indices (Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 9.1 ± 1.9, Simple Measure of Gobbledygook: 8.6 ± 1.4, Gunning Frequency of Gobbledygook: 11.8 ± 2.1; P > 0.001 for all). All patient education materials discussed the benefits of neuraxial analgesia. However, only 14% (upper 95% confidence interval: 24%) discussed contraindications to neuraxial anesthesia. Postdural puncture headache and hypotension were the most commonly addressed complications (92%). All other complications were addressed by less than half of patient education materials. Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool for Print scores were consistent with poor website understandability (median score, 64%; interquartile range, 64-73). CONCLUSIONS: The mean readability of Web-based patient education materials addressing neuraxial labor analgesia was above the recommended sixth grade reading level. Although most patient education materials explained the benefits of neuraxial analgesia, possible contraindications and complications were not consistently presented. The content, readability, and quality of patient education materials are poor and should be improved to help patients make more informed decisions about analgesic options during labor and delivery. (Anesth Analg 2015;121:1295-300)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1295-1300
Number of pages6
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Volume121
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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