AUSTIN, Texas — Online patient education materials addressing thyroid cancer are overwhelmingly written at a reading level beyond that recommended by national health care organizations, according to a speaker at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists’ Annual Scientific and Clinical Congress.
“The patient education materials available to the patients on thyroid cancer treatment on the most frequently browsed web sites are above the national recommendation [reading] level,” Rashika Bansal, MD, an internal medicine fellow at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center/New York College, NJ, said during a presentation.
“There is an extreme need to revise the currently available material for information so that the general population can understand and comprehend these treatment options better and take informed decisions,” she said.
Bansal and colleagues collected materials from the “patients only” sections of health care web sites, including the American Thyroid Association, Harvard Medical School, NIH and Mayo Clinic, among others. Using online readability tools, the researchers compared the readability scores of the materials with those recommended by the American Medical Association and NIH, which suggest reading difficulty should be no higher than a sixth-grade level, and CDC, which suggests an eighth-grade reading level.
The patient education materials included in the study were assessed as “difficult,” “difficult to hard” or at a reading level above the 10th grade by all the tools except one, which assessed the materials as beyond the seventh-grade level.
“Beyond reading level, there’s a health literacy part to this,” S. Sethu Reddy, MD, MBA, FRCPC, FACP, MACE, chief of the adult diabetes section at Joslin Diabetes Center, said during audience discussion. He pointed out a general difficulty among even college-educated patients with following prescription orders and post-surgery procedures. – by Jill Rollet
Bansal R, et al. Abstract #722. AACE Annual Scientific and Clinical Congress; May 3-7, 2017; Austin, Texas.
Disclosures: Bansal reports no relevant financial disclosures.