Literacy assessment of preimplantation genetic patient education materials exceed national reading levels

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Purpose: In vitro fertilization with preimplantation genetic testing (IVF+PGT-M) reduces the risk of having a child affected by a heritable condition, yet only one-third of eligible patients are aware of this reproductive option. Access to education materials written at appropriate literacy levels could raise patients’ awareness, but there is a mismatch between patient reading ability and the literacy demand of most materials. This study aimed to systematically identify written education materials on IVF+PGT-M and evaluate their literacy levels. We hypothesized that materials would fail to meet standards set by the Joint Commission and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Methods: To identify patient education materials about IVF+PGT-M from academic databases and public-facing sources, an environmental scan was performed. Materials were analyzed using three validated scales: Simple Measure of Gobbledygook, Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool, and Clear Communication Index. Results: Seventeen patient education materials about IVF+PGT-M were identified from patient education databases, a consumer search engine, and professional organizations. The median reading level was 14.5 grade, median understandability was 74.2%, and median comprehensibility was 73.3%. Conclusions: For most American adults, materials about IVF+PGT-M are not readable, understandable, or clear. The Joint Commission requires patient education materials be written at or below 5th grade reading level and the CDC recommends a 90% minimum score for comprehensibility. No evaluated material met these guidelines. Patient education materials that exceed average American literacy skills may perpetuate disparities in the utilization of IVF+PGT-M. Materials that communicate this complicated subject at an understandable level are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1913-1922
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Environmental scan
  • Literacy demand
  • Patient education
  • Preimplantation genetic testing
  • Sickle cell disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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