Current Concepts| Volume 29, ISSUE 6, P1108-1112, June 2013

Readability of Arthroscopy-Related Patient Education Materials From the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and Arthroscopy Association of North America Web Sites


      We sought to assess the readability levels of arthroscopy-related patient education materials available on the Web sites of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA). We identified all articles related to arthroscopy available in 2012 from the online patient education libraries of AAOS and AANA. After performing follow-up editing, we assessed each article with the Flesch-Kincaid (FK) readability test. Mean readability levels of the articles from the AAOS Web site and the AANA Web site were compared. We also determined the number of articles with readability levels at or below the eighth-grade level (the average reading ability of the US adult population) and sixth-grade level (the widely recommended level for patient education materials). Intraobserver reliability and interobserver reliability of FK grade assessment were evaluated. A total of 62 articles were reviewed (43 from AAOS and 19 from AANA). The mean overall FK grade level was 10.2 (range, 5.2 to 12). The AAOS articles had a mean FK grade level of 9.6 (range, 5.2 to 12), whereas the AANA articles had a mean FK grade level of 11.4 (range, 8.7 to 12); the difference was significant (P < .0001). Only 3 articles had a readability level at or below the eighth-grade level and only 1 was at or below the sixth-grade level; all were from AAOS. Intraobserver reliability and interobserver reliability were excellent (intraclass correlation coefficient of 1 for both). Online patient education materials related to arthroscopy from AAOS and AANA may be written at a level too difficult for a large portion of the patient population to comprehend.
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