MAYWOOD, IL - Ninety million American adults read below high school levels, so the National Institutes of Health recommends that patient-education materials be written at the fourth-through-six grade level.
But a Loyola University Medical Center study has found that only 4.8 percent of web sites describing prostate cancer were written below a high school reading level. The median reading level was 12th grade.
"This is probablematic for one-third of Americans who seek to further educate themselves using online resources," senior author Gopal Gupta, MD and colleagues wrote. The study is published online ahead of print in the Journal of Urology.
Gupta and colleagues identified 62 web sites by searching for "prostate cancer" "prostate cancer treatment" and "prostatectomy" on Google, Yahoo and Bing search engines. Researchers used word processing software to test the readability of the first 300 words of each web site.
To assess readability, researchers used the Flesch-Kincaid test, which measures the reading grade level, and the Flesch reading ease test, which assigns a readability score of 0 to 100. The tests are based on formulas that incorporate total number of words, sentences and syllables.
Sixty-three percent of the sites were written above a 12th grade reading level, and the median Flesch reading ease score for all sites a relatively difficult 38.1. (The Flesch reading ease score ranges from 0 to 100. A web site with a score of 90 to 100 would be easily understood by an 11-year-old; a score of 60-to-70 would be understood by 13-to-15-year-olds; and scores lower than 30 would be suited to college grads.)
Web sites with the easiest readability scores were News-Medical Net (8th grade level), Consumer Reports.org (8.9), Family Doctor.org (8.95), UPMC Cancer Centers (9.2) and NIH Pubmed Health (9.8).
"It was discouraging to find that only 4.8 percent of these sites had information written
|Contact: Jim Ritter|
Loyola University Health System