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Health literacy and contraception: a readability evaluation of contraceptive instructions for condoms, spermicides and emergency contraception in the USA.

Author information

1
School of Pharmacy, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA. ElibiaryS@pharmacy.ucsf.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To assess readability of over-the-counter (OTC) contraceptive product instructions currently available, compare the results with previous studies from a decade ago, and review the implications for health care providers, in particular pharmacists counseling on OTC contraceptives.

METHODS:

A sample of contraceptive instructions was submitted to a readability analysis using four standard readability formulas. Products included condoms, spermicides, and emergency contraception instruction pamphlets.

RESULTS:

Reading grade levels for condoms ranged from 6th to 12th grade. The average reading levels for the spermicides were 9th-10th grade and for the emergency contraceptives 10th-12th grade. These results were consistent with those of similar studies performed a decade ago.

CONCLUSIONS:

Consumers need to have at least a high school reading level in order to comprehend current product instructions. Very little has changed in the past decade regarding readability of OTC contraceptive patient instructions, despite calls to simplify written instructions. Healthcare providers, in particular pharmacists, must be aware of these disparities to enhance patient education and advocate for simpler reading materials.

PMID:
17455046
DOI:
10.1080/13625180601092537
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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