Are we failing to communicate? Internet-based patient education materials and radiation safety

David R. Hansberry, Tekchand Ramchand, Shyam Patel, Carl Kraus, Jin Jung, Nitin Agarwal, Sharon F. Gonzales, Stephen R. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Introduction Patients frequently turn to the Internet when seeking answers to healthcare related inquiries including questions about the effects of radiation when undergoing radiologic studies. We investigate the readability of online patient education materials concerning radiation safety from multiple Internet resources. Methods Patient education material regarding radiation safety was downloaded from 8 different websites encompassing: (1) the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (2) the Environmental Protection Agency, (3) the European Society of Radiology, (4) the Food and Drug Administration, (5) the Mayo Clinic, (6) MedlinePlus, (7) the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and (8) the Society of Pediatric Radiology. From these 8 resources, a total of 45 articles were analyzed for their level of readability using 10 different readability scales. Results The 45 articles had a level of readability ranging from 9.4 to the 17.2 grade level. Only 3/45 (6.7%) were written below the 10th grade level. No statistical difference was seen between the readability level of the 8 different websites. Conclusions All 45 articles from all 8 websites failed to meet the recommendations set forth by the National Institutes of Health and American Medical Association that patient education resources be written between the 3rd and 7th grade level. Rewriting the patient education resources on radiation safety from each of these 8 websites would help many consumers of healthcare information adequately comprehend such material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1698-1702
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Radiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Health literacy
  • Patient education
  • Radiation safety
  • Radiology
  • Readability


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