Readability assessment of concussion and traumatic brain injury publications by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Gill, Preetinder S.; Gill, Tejkaran S.; Kamath, Ashwini; Whisnant, Billy
December 2012
International Journal of General Medicine;2012 Part 2, Vol. 5, p923
Academic Journal
Health literacy is associated with a person's capacity to find, access, contextualize, and understand information needed for health care-related decisions. The level of health literacy thus has an influence on an individual's health status. It can be argued that low health literacy is associated with poor health status. Health care literature (eg, pamphlets, brochures, postcards, posters, forms) are published by public and private organizations worldwide to provide information to the general public. The ability to read, use, and understand is critical to the successful application of knowledge disseminated by this literature. This study assessed the readability, suitability, and usability of health care literature associated with concussion and traumatic brain injury published by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, Flesch Reading Ease, Gunning Fog, Simple Measure of Gobbledygook, and Suitability Assessment of Materials indices were used to assess 40 documents obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. The documents analyzed were targeted towards the general public. It was found that in order to be read properly, on average, these documents needed more than an eleventh grade/high school level education. This was consistent with the findings of other similar studies. However, the qualitative Suitability Assessment of Materials index showed that, on average, usability and suitability of these documents was superior. Hence, it was concluded that formatting, illustrations, layout, and graphics play a pivotal role in improving health care-related literature and, in turn, promoting health literacy. Based on the comprehensive literature review and assessment of the 40 documents associated with concussion and traumatic brain injury, recommendations have been made for improving the readability, suitability, and usability of health care-related documents. The recommendations are presented in the form of an incremental improvement process cycle and a list of dos and don'ts.


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