Study Objective The main objective of the current investigation was to assess the readability of Internet-based patient education materials related to the field of anesthesiology. We hypothesized that the majority of patient education materials would not be written according to current recommended readability grade level. Setting Online patient education materials describing procedures, risks, and management of anesthesia-related topics were identified using the search engine Google (available at www.google.com) using the terms anesthesia, anesthesiology, anesthesia risks, and anesthesia care. Design Cross-sectional evaluation. Interventions None. Measurements Assessments of content readability were performed using validated instruments (Flesch-Kincaid Grade Formulae, the Gunning Frequency of Gobbledygook, the New Dale-Chall Test, the Fry graph, and the Flesch Reading Ease score). Main Results Ninety-six Web sites containing Internet patient education materials (IPEMs) were evaluated. The median (interquartile range) readability grade level for all evaluated IPEMs was 13.5 (12.0-14.6). All the evaluated documents were classified at a greater readability level than the current recommended readability grade, P <.001. Readability grades were not significantly different among different IPEM sources. Assessment by the Flesch Reading Ease test classified all but 4 IPEMs as at least fairly difficult to read. Conclusions Internet-based patient education materials related to the field of anesthesiology are currently written far above the recommended readability grade level. High complexity of written education materials likely limits access of information to millions of American patients. Redesign of online content of Web sites that provide patient education material regarding anesthesia could be an important step in improving access to information for patients with poor health literacy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine