With increasing access to noninvasive cell free DNA screening, there is a growing need for quality patient education materials that reflect the complexity of decision making involved in electing to pursue screening. As online resources are utilized more by patients and providers alike to aid patient education, little is known regarding the readability of online patient-oriented materials related to noninvasive prenatal screening.METHODS:
Websites regarding NIPS were sampled, mirroring likely patient search patterns. Contents were then analyzed for readability using four validated readability formulas, including Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES), Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL), Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG), and Gunning Fog Index (GFOG).RESULTS:
All top 15 patient-oriented sites regarding NIPS had readability scores higher than currently recommended for patient-directed information. The mean FRES was 38.0 (range, 24.8–61.9), which correlates with a “difficult” level of reading for majority of the websites (93.3%) The mean readability grade levels ranged as follows: 8.5 to 17.2 for FKGL; 10.8 to 18.1 for SMOG; and 10.8 to 20.6 for the Gunning Fog Index. Analysis of variance demonstrated a significant difference (P<.001) between the websites for each reading scale.CONCLUSION:
Majority of online patient information regarding NIPS is written at levels higher than what the average person can comprehend. Given the need for comprehensive information and the complexity of decision making involved in screening, there is a great need for online patient-oriented websites that can help educate pregnant patients, especially in light of the growing number of fetal genetic testing options.