Authors Chenlu Tian, MD and Deepak Agrawal, MD from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas report on their Original Article “Readability, suitability, and health content assessment of web-based patient education materials on colorectal cancer screening.”
Our study assessed the quality of popular and reputable web-based patient education materials on colorectal cancer (CRC) screening by looking at the health content as well as how readable and suitable these materials are for the target audience.
The Internet has become a major source of information for colon cancer screening, even for patients with low socio-economic and literacy status. Hence, for the websites to deliver the message effectively, they should be easy to read and understand. However, even informed patients may not get CRC screening if we do not address their perceptions, beliefs and potential barriers to getting screened. No prior study has evaluated the quality of these materials from this health literacy standpoint. Results from this study should help guide creation of more effective patient education materials.
The majority of patient education materials on colon cancer screening are written at a reading difficulty beyond the recommended sixth-grade level. We also assessed suitability of reading material by analyzing choice of words, use of graphics, layout and typography, learning stimulation, and cultural appropriateness. Most materials were adequate but not superior, indicating multiple areas improvement. A majority of materials did not address the perceptions of the patients regarding their risk of acquiring CRC, benefits especially from social standpoint, and barriers such as cost, pain and embarrassment during colonoscopy, or discuss risks in general and benefits of screening.
Changes are needed to improve current patient education materials available on the Internet so they can target a wide patient population and motivate them to get screened.
Read the abstract for this article here.
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