The Readability of Online Patient Education Materials from Major Anesthesiology Associations and the American Society of Anesthesiologists


Background: As much as 80% of US adults search online for health related information. The value of the information is limited by the patients’ ability to comprehend it. Despite the recommendation by the American Medical Association (AMA) to provide all patient education materials (PEMs) at a 6th grade reading level, many online sources do not conform. This study aims to evaluate the readability of PEMs from major online sources for anesthesiology. Methods: We determined the readability of PEMs from five major anesthesiology organizations and twelve brochures from the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) using ten validated readability scales. PEMs from the various anesthesiology websites were compiled into a single word document for analysis. The twelve patient education brochures from the ASA were downloaded and analyzed separately. We then grouped the twelve documents into one sample and compared it to the other anesthesiology association websites. Results: All of the PEMs provided by the ASA were determined to be higher than a 6th grade reading level with nine being at a 12th grade reading level or above. The PEMs of the five major anesthesiology association websites were beyond the 6th grade reading level with four out of five at greater than the 12th grade reading level. Conclusion: The results showed that the readability of PEMs provided by five major anesthesiology associations and the ASA was beyond the 6th grade. Therefore, the PEMs with improved readability in anesthesiology are needed.

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L. Chinn, S. McGuirt and S. Puri, "The Readability of Online Patient Education Materials from Major Anesthesiology Associations and the American Society of Anesthesiologists," Open Journal of Anesthesiology, Vol. 4 No. 1, 2014, pp. 1-7. doi: 10.4236/ojanes.2014.41001.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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