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Ir J Med Sci. 2011 Mar;180(1):139-42. doi: 10.1007/s11845-010-0624-x. Epub 2010 Nov 3.

Readability level of patient information leaflets for older people.

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  • 1Cork University Hospital, Wilton, Cork, Ireland.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Limited literacy is associated with a nearly twofold increase in mortality in older patients.

AIMS:

The aim was to assess the readability level of patient information leaflets in Ireland.

METHODS:

The SMOG formula is a validated tool to assess readability of text, providing an estimate of the years of education needed to understand a piece of writing. We evaluated 45 common patient information leaflets for older people, and compared them to newspapers.

RESULTS:

The mean readability level of the patient education leaflets was 12.57 (range 9.4-16.33). The mean readability level of broadsheet newspapers was 12. A majority of patient education materials are written at an excessively high readability level.

CONCLUSION:

Patient education information should be aimed at an appropriate level for the target audience. This is of particular relevance in the older population, who are at a higher risk of inadequate or marginal health literacy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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