Readability assessment of patient education materials from the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and neck surgery foundation

Khushabu Kasabwala, Nitin Agarwal, David R. Hansberry, Soly Baredes, Jean Anderson Eloy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Objective. Americans are increasingly turning to the Internet as a source of health care information. These online resources should be written at a level readily understood by the average American. This study evaluates the readability of online patient education information available from the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) professional Web site using 7 different assessment tools that analyze the materials for reading ease and grade level of its target audience. Study Design and Setting. Analysis of Internet-based patient education material from the AAO-HNSF Web site. Methods. Online patient education material from the AAOHNSF was downloaded in January 2012 and assessed for level of readability using the Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch- Kincaid Grade Level, SMOG grading, Coleman-Liau Index, Gunning-Fog Index, Raygor Readability Estimate graph, and Fry Readability graph. The text from each subsection was pasted as plain text into Microsoft Word document, and each subsection was subjected to readability analysis using the software package Readability Studio Professional Edition Version 2012.1. Results. All health care education material assessed is written between an 11th grade and graduate reading level and is considered "difficult to read" by the assessment scales. Conclusions. Online patient education materials on the AAOHNSF Web site are written above the recommended 6th grade level and may need to be revised to make them more easily understood by a broader audience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-471
Number of pages6
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • AAO-HNSF patient education materials
  • Flesch Reading Ease score
  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
  • Internet
  • Internet-based patient education material
  • otolaryngology
  • patient education
  • patient education material
  • readability


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