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J Cancer Educ. 1990;5(1):55-61.

Readability of the public education literature on cancer prevention and detection.

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Department of Family and Community Medicine, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27103.


This paper presents an analysis of the readability level of the educational literature on cancer prevention and early detection. Cancer education brochures and pamphlets were obtained from the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, private companies, public nonprofit agencies, and state health departments. A total of 183 brochures and pamphlets were examined and reading level (SMOG) scores were computed for 159 of them. The average reading level of the printed cancer education materials was found to be between 10th and 11th grade, with little overall variation by publishing agency, topic, cancer site, focus, or target population. In general, the results suggest that much of the cancer education literature may be of limited value in providing information to the low-income, low-education population.

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