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Sleep. 1998 Jun 15;21(4):406-12.

Presentation and reading level of sleep brochures: are they appropriate for sleep disorders patients?

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Louisiana State University Medical Center-Shreveport (LSUMC-S) 71130-3932, USA.



Sleep-disorders patients must be given information and health education they understand. The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to assess suitability of American Sleep Disorders Association and National Sleep Foundation patient education brochures; and (2) to assess one widely used brochure, using patient input and patient literacy level, as a model for development of future materials.


Twelve American Sleep Disorders Association and National Sleep Foundation brochures were assessed for reading level using Grammatik, and for design, presentation, and motivating qualities using the Suitability Assessment of Materials (SAM). Patient literacy level was assessed using the Rapid Estimate Of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM).


The Louisiana State University Medical Center sleep clinic, faculty private sleep clinic, and in the sleep center laboratory.


During the months of February-May 1997, 170 sleep disorders patients, 39% African American, 59% white participated in the study. Participants ranged in age from 18-73 years, with a mean age of 46.


Suitability scores for the 12 brochures indicate that none scored in the superior range, 83% scored adequate, and 17% scored not suitable. Ninety-four percent of the brochures were written on a 12th grade level or higher, yet 37% of the sleep patients tested were reading at less than a 9th grade level. Low-level readers were significantly more likely than their higher-reading-level counterparts to report that a brochure was too long (22% vs 12%; p < .05), and that they would need help reading it (44% vs 3%; p < .001).


Patients need sleep information given to them on a level they understand. When developing and selecting appropriate materials, reading level, length, and suitability of written material should be considered.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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