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J Pediatr Health Care. 2005 May-Jun;19(3):151-6.

The readability of American Academy of Pediatrics patient education brochures.

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Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY, USA.



The purpose of this study was to evaluate the readability of American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) patient education brochures.


Seventy-four brochures were analyzed using two readability formulas.


Mean readability for all 74 brochures was grade 7.94 using the Flesch-Kincaid formula, and grade 10.1 with SMOG formula (P = .001). Using the SMOG formula, no brochures were of acceptably low (< or =8th grade) readability levels (range 8.3 to 12.7). Using the Flesch-Kincaid formula, 41 of the 74 had acceptable readability levels (< or =8th grade). The SMOG formula routinely assessed brochures 2 to 3 grade levels higher than did the Flesch-Kincaid formula.


Some AAP patient education brochures have acceptably low levels of readability, but at least half are written at higher than acceptable readability levels for the general public. This study also demonstrated statistically significant variability between the two different readability formulas; had only the SMOG formula been used, all of the brochures would have had unacceptably high readability levels. Readability is an essential concept for patient education materials. Professional associations that develop and market patient education materials should test for readability and publish those readability levels on each piece of patient education so health care providers will know if the materials are appropriate for their patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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