Quality Assessment of Spinal Cord Injury Patient Education Resources

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Study Design.

Analysis of spinal cord injury patient education resources.


To assess the quality of online patient education materials written about spinal cord injury.

Summary of Background Data.

The use of online materials by health care consumers to access medical information presents unique challenges. Most Americans have access to the Internet and frequently turn to it as a first-line resource.


The quality of online patient education materials was evaluated via a readability analysis. Materials provided by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; American Association of Neurological Surgeons; The National Spinal Cord Injury Association; Mayo Clinic; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation; American Academy of Neurology; Paralyzed Veterans of America; and the Shepherd Center were assessed using the Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level evaluations with Microsoft Office Word software. Unnecessary formatting was removed and the readability was evaluated with the spelling and grammar function.


A total of 104 sections from 10 different Web sites were analyzed. Overall, the average values of the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (11.9) and Flesch Reading Ease (40.2) indicated that most Americans would not be able to fully comprehend this material.


Results indicate that the language used on materials provided by the aforementioned sites is perhaps too advanced for the average American to fully comprehend. The quality of these education resources may be improved via Web site revisions, which might be beneficial for improved patient utilization.


Level of Evidence: 2

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