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J Neurooncol. 2012 Sep;109(3):573-80. doi: 10.1007/s11060-012-0930-4. Epub 2012 Jul 19.

Readability analysis of internet-based patient information regarding skull base tumors.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Center for Skull Base and Pituitary Surgery, Neurological Institute of New Jersey, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, USA.


Readability is an important consideration in assessing healthcare-related literature. In order for a source of information to be the most beneficial to patients, it should be written at a level appropriate for the audience. The National Institute of Health recommends that health literature be written at a maximum level of sixth grade. This is not uniformly found in current health literature, putting patients with lower reading levels at a disadvantage. In February 2012, healthcare-oriented education resources were retrieved from websites obtained using the Google search phrase skull base tumors. Of the first 25 consecutive, unique website hits, 18 websites were found to contain information for patients. Ten different assessment scales were utilized to assess the readability of the patient-specific web pages. Patient-oriented material found online for skull base tumors was written at a significantly higher level than the reading level of the average US patient. The average reading level of this material was found to be at a minimum of eleventh grade across all ten scales. Health related material related to skull base tumors available through the internet can be improved to reach a larger audience without sacrificing the necessary information. Revisions of this material can provide significant benefit for average patients and improve their health care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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