Does Anyone Even Understand What’s on Your Hospital Website?

October 31, 2012
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According to a recent study, the information on 95 percent of prostate cancer websites is over the heads of their readers. Of 62 websites surveyed, only three had treatment information written below a ninth grade reading level, the study said. Sites aimed for the reading level of a high school senior are far beyond the reading skills of many Americans.

According to a recent study, the information on 95 percent of prostate cancer websites is over the heads of their readers. Of 62 websites surveyed, only three had treatment information written below a ninth grade reading level, the study said. Sites aimed for the reading level of a high school senior are far beyond the reading skills of many Americans. confused-man-computer

That’s a serious concern. There’s a wide range of treatment options available for prostate cancer, but if patients can’t understand the information they’re reading online, it’s difficult for them to make decisions about their treatment. Health literacy should be a priority for anyone with a hospital website – 90 million American adults’ literacy skills test below a high school level, according to the study.

In the study, doctors asked newly diagnosed cancer patients whether thev’d done any online research on their own, and if so, what they’d found. Patients did not appear to understand much of what they read. The study concluded that most sites required a 12th grade reading level, and more than half required college-level reading skills to comprehend. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that written information for patients be at a fourth- to sixth-grade reading level in order for the general public to understand its content.