"I can't understand your information sheet, doc!" Readability of limited-reach media materials for the lay population.

Waletha Wasson, Mark Scarbecz, Maurice Welton Lewis, Judith Ross, Van Himel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Patients are provided limited-reach media materials, such as information sheets and pamphlets, as reinforcement of information when the oral healthcare professional is no longer face-to-face. Patients are more likely to use the printed information if text complexity and reader's ability match, or if their need to know the content provokes an urge to read. A number of researchers have developed readability tests. This study used the Fry Readability Graph to plot the results of three independent raters' averages of the number of sentences and the words (syllables) of continuous (prose) and non-continuous (matrix-style) pre-selected passages from several reputable sources. These limited-reach materials are frequently used in academic institutions' community engagement efforts. Several of the limited-reach materials we studied were ranked above the fifth-grade reading level, so consideration must be given to future distribution of these documents in communities where the average reading proficiency is lower. Several limitations, such as the quality of illustrations and measuring the reading level of individuals, were not investigated and must be considered as the authors continue to distribute literature in certain urban and suburban locales. This study is the genesis of an academic institution's community engagement efforts to provide information to clinicians and improve its outreach distribution of limited-reach media for patients who have varying levels of general and health literacy backgrounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-40; quiz 41-42
JournalUnknown Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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