Analysis of internet-based patient education materials related to pituitary tumors

Deepa V. Cherla, Saurin Sanghvi, Nitin Agarwal, Jean Eloy, William T. Couldwell, James K. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective: The Internet has become a primary and ubiquitous information source for patient education material (PEM); however, the information provided may not be appropriate for the average patient to comprehend. Various national healthcare organizations have recommended that PEM be written at or below the sixth-grade level. The purpose of this study was to assess the readability of pituitary tumor-related PEMs available on the Internet.Methods: Fifty-one PEMs on pituitary tumors were downloaded from professional society and clinical practice websites. Analysis of readability was performed using 4 different readability indices: Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL), Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES), Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG), and Gunning Frequency Measure of Gobbledygook (Gunning FOG).Results: Scores from the FKGL, SMOG, and Gunning FOG scales correspond to reading grade levels. Therefore, a higher number corresponds to higher difficulty and lower readability. The average grade level of the PEMs according to the readability indices were as follows: FKGL = 11.71 (11th to 12th grades), SMOG = 14.56 (college level), and Gunning FOG = 14.86 (college level). For the FRES, higher scores imply easier readability. The average FRES was 40.19 (fairly difficult-between 10th and 11th grades).Conclusion: These findings suggest that online pituitary tumor-related material may be too difficult for comprehension by the majority of the targeted patient population. Keeping the reading level of PEMs at or below the sixth grade may improve understanding of this disease and its management for pituitary tumor patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1044-1050
Number of pages7
JournalEndocrine Practice
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


  • FKGL = Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
  • FRES = Flesch Reading Ease Score
  • Gunning FOG = Gunning Frequency Measure of Gobbledygook
  • PEM = patient education material
  • SMOG = Simple Measure of Gobbledygook


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