Readability of Online Patient Education Materials for Graft-Versus-Host Disease

Trisha Kaundinya, Salma El-Behaedi, Jennifer N. Choi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a complex systemic diagnosis which is associated with significant symptom distress in patients. Patient education has shown to mitigate uncertainty and distress, but to our knowledge, no studies have evaluated patient education materials on GVHD. We characterized the readability and understandability of patient education materials on GVHD available online. We conducted a Google search of the top 100 non-sponsored search results, selecting for full-text patient education that is not peer-reviewed or a news article. We evaluated the text of the eligible search results against the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease, Flesch Kincaid Grade Level, Gunning Fog, Automated Readability, Linsear Write Formula, Coleman-Liau Index, Smog Index, and Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT) for understandability. Among 52 included Web results, 17 (32.7%) were provider-authored and 15 (28.8%) were hosted on university Web sites. The total average scores on validated readability tools were Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease (46.4), Flesch Kincaid Grade Level (11.6), Gunning Fog (13.6), Automated Readability (12.3), Linsear Write Formula (12.6), Coleman-Liau Index (12.3), Smog Index (10.0), and PEMAT Understandability (65.5). Provider-authored links scored poorer than non-provider-authored links on all metrics, with significant differences for the Gunning Fog index (p < 0.05). University-hosted links scored better than non-university-hosted links on all metrics. Evaluation of online patient education materials for GVHD demonstrates the need for more readable and understandable resources to mitigate the distress and uncertainty that patients may feel upon being diagnosed with GVHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Graft-versus-host disease
  • Patient education
  • Readability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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