Readability of patient education materials from Has there been progress over the past 5 years?

Matthew Bange, Eric Huh, Sherwin A. Novin, Ferdinand Hui, Paul H. Yi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE. As patients increasingly turn to the Internet for healthcare information, it is imperative that patient educational materials be written at an appropriate readability level. Although, a patient education library sponsored by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and Radiological Society of North America, was shown in 2012 to be written at levels too high for the average patient to adequately comprehend, it is unclear if there has been progress made in the past 5 years. The purpose of this study was to provide a 5-year update on the readability of patient education materials from MATERIALS AND METHODS. All patient education articles available in 2017 from the ACR and RSNA-sponsored patient education library were reviewed. We assessed each article for readability using 6 quantitative readability scales: the Flesch-Kincaid (FK) grade level, Flesch Reading Ease, Gunnin-Fog Index, Coleman-Liau Index, Automated Readability Index, and the Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG). The number of articles with readability ≤ the 8th grade level (average reading ability of US adults) and the 6th-grade level (NIH-recommended level for patient materials) were determined. RESULTS. 131 patient education articles were reviewed. The mean readability grade level was greater than the 11th grade reading level for all readability scales. None of the articles were written at less than the 8th-grade or the 6th-grade levels. CONCLUSION. Although there has been an increasing awareness of the issue of readability of patient educational materials within the radiological community, the patient educational materials within the ACR and RSNA-sponsored website are still written at levels too high for the average patient. Future efforts should be made to improve the readability of those patient education materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)875-879
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Patient education
  • Readability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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