Assessing the Readability of Skin Care and Pressure Ulcer Patient Education Materials

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ObjectiveThe purpose of this study was to evaluate the readability of written patient education materials used to teach patients about the prevention and care of skin and pressure ulcers. Other design characteristics of the materials including organization, writing style, appearance, and appeal also were assessed.DesignThis study used a nonexperimental, descriptive design.Setting and Stimulus MaterialsTen pamphlets and brochures commonly used in urban hospitals, home care agencies, and public clinics in the Midwest were evaluated.InstrumentsThe study used 2 instruments: The Area Health Education Center (AHEC) checklist and the Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG) readability formula.MethodsThe investigator used the SMOG readability formula to analyze patient education materials. The AHEC checklist was used to evaluate the design characteristics of the materials, including organization, writing style, appeal, and appearance.ResultsThe overall readability level of the written materials was 10th grade. At least half of the materials were written at 8th-grade level or below, which is considered acceptable for the general public. Some pamphlets used words such as “seborrheic keratosis” or “actinic keratosis,” making the materials difficult to read. An incidental finding was that none of the materials addressed skin care or pressure ulcer experiences of different cultural groups.ConclusionNone of the materials was determined to be appropriate teaching tools for low-literacy patients, as measured by the AHEC checklist. Although half the materials were written at the 8th-grade level and below, that level may be too high for many patients.

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