Background Prior studies indicate that orthopedic patient education materials are written at a level that is too high for the average patient. The purpose of this study was to assess the readability of online patient education materials provided by orthopedic implant manufacturers. Methods All patient education articles available in 2013 from the web sites of the 5 largest orthopedic implant manufacturers were identified. Each article was evaluated with the Flesch-Kincaid (FK) readability test. The number of articles with readability ≤ the eighth-grade level (average reading ability of US adults) and the sixth-grade level (recommended level for patient education materials) was determined. Mean readability levels of each company's articles were compared using analysis of variance (significance set at P <.05). Results A total of 581 articles were reviewed from the 5 largest implant manufacturers. The mean overall FK grade level was 10.9 (range, 3.8-16.1). Only 58 articles (10%) were written ≤ the eighth-grade level, and only 13 (2.2%) were ≤ the sixth-grade level. The mean FK grade level was significantly different among groups (Smith & Nephew = 12.0, Stryker = 11.6, Biomet = 11.3, DePuy = 10.6, Zimmer = 10.1; P <.0001). Conclusion The majority of patient education materials from implant manufacturers are written at a level too high to be comprehended by the average patient. Future efforts should be made to improve the readability of orthopedic patient education materials.
- patient education
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine