Readability analysis of online health information about overactive bladder

Kevin Koo, Kevin Shee, Ronald L. Yap

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: Despite the prevalence of overactive bladder (OAB) and the widespread accessibility of patient education information on the Internet, the readability of this information and its potential impact on patient decision-making are not known. This study evaluates the readability of OAB material online in the context of website ownership and the Health on the Net standard for information reliability. Methods: Three Internet search platforms were queried daily with OAB-related keywords for 30 days. Readability analysis was performed using the SMOG test, Dale-Chall readability formula, and Fry readability graph. Websites were stratified by ownership type and Health on the Net certification to compare readability metrics. Results: After 270 total searches, 57 websites were analyzed. Mean SMOG reading grade was 10.7 (SD = 1.6) and 10.1 in an adjusted calculation to reduce overestimation from medical jargon. Mean Dale-Chall score was 9.2 (SD = 0.9), or grade 13-15. Mean Fry graph coordinates (177 syllables, 5.9 sentences) corresponded to grade 15. Only seven sites (12%) were predicted to be readable by the average adult with an eighth-grade reading level. Mean reading grades were not significantly different between academic versus commercial sites and Health on the Net-certified versus non-certified sites. Conclusions: A large majority of online information about OAB treatment exceeds the reading ability of most adults. Neither websites sponsored by academic institutions nor those certified by the Health on the Net standard have easier readability. The readability of health information online may be distinct from reliability in the context of urological literacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1782-1787
Number of pages6
JournalNeurourology and Urodynamics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • consumer health information
  • internet
  • literacy
  • overactive bladder
  • readability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Urology


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