The Readability of Online Patient Information About Mohs Micrographic Surgery

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Mohs micrographic surgery has become increasingly used in the treatment of cutaneous malignancies over the past decade. Concurrently, more patients are using the Internet as a resource for medical information than ever before. The average American adult reads at an eighth grade level. The American Medical Association and National Institutes of Health have recommended a sixth grade target reading level for patient health materials.

OBJECTIVE

This study evaluates the readability of currently available online information about Mohs micrographic surgery in the context of these recommendations.

METHODS

An Internet search for the term “Mohs surgery” was performed and the first 10 results were identified. Patient information from each primary site was downloaded and formatted into plain text. Readability was assessed using 9 established tests; text was analyzed both overall and by Web site for comparison.

RESULTS

A total of 101 articles were collected from the first 10 Web site search results; the overall average reading level was 14.4. All articles exceeded the recommended sixth grade reading level.

CONCLUSION

Online resources about Mohs micrographic surgery are too difficult for many patients to read. The paucity of appropriately written patient information available on the Internet may hinder informed decision-making, participation, and subsequent postoperative satisfaction.

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