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J Clin Neurosci. 2014 Dec;21(12):2179-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2014.05.043. Epub 2014 Sep 4.

Comparison of neurological healthcare oriented educational resources for patients on the internet.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology and Neuroscience, Rutgers - New Jersey Medical School, 185 South Orange Avenue, MSB, H-506, Newark, NJ 07103, USA. Electronic address: vineetpunia.84@gmail.com.
2
Maharishi Markandeshwar University, Ambala 133207, India.
3
Department of Neurology and Neuroscience, Rutgers - New Jersey Medical School, 185 South Orange Avenue, MSB, H-506, Newark, NJ 07103, USA.

Abstract

The internet has become a major contributor to health literacy promotion. The average American reads at 7th-8th grade level and it is recommended to write patient education materials at or below 6th grade reading level. We tried to assess the level of literacy required to read and understand online patient education materials (OPEM) for neurological diseases from various internet resources. We then compared those to an assumed reference OPEM source, namely the patient education brochures from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), the world's largest professional association of neurologists. Disease specific patient education brochures were downloaded from the AAN website. OPEM for these diseases were also accessed from other common online sources determined using a predefined criterion. All OPEM were converted to Microsoft Word (Microsoft Corp., Redmond, WA, USA) and their reading level was analyzed using Readability Studio Professional Edition version 2012.1 (Oleander Software, Vandalia, OH, USA). Descriptive analysis and analysis of variance were used to compare reading levels of OPEM from different resources. Medline Plus, Mayo clinic and Wikipedia qualified for OPEM analysis. All OPEM from these resources, including the AAN, were written above the recommended 6th grade reading level. They were also found to be "fairly difficult", "difficult" or "confusing" on the Flesch Reading Ease scale. AAN OPEM on average needed lower reading level, with Wikipedia OPEM being significantly (p<0.01) more difficult to read compared to the other three resources. OPEM on neurological diseases are being written at a level of reading complexity higher than the average American and the recommended reading levels. This may be undermining the utility of these resources.

KEYWORDS:

Internet; Neurological disorders; Patient education; Patient education handout

PMID:
25194822
DOI:
10.1016/j.jocn.2014.05.043
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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