Online urologic patient education materials (PEMs) are generally written above recommended reading levels, according to a study published in The Journal of Urology (2013;189:1048-1052).

Marc Colaco, from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School in Newark, and colleagues utilized 10 commonly used readability assessment tools to examine and compare the readability and difficulty of online PEMs from the American Urological Association (AUA), and from academic urological departments.

The researchers found that the majority of the PEMs were written at or above an 11th grade reading level. The authors note that, to facilitate comprehension, the National Institutes of Health, American Medical Association, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that PEMs be written at a fourth to sixth grade reading level.

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“Increased patient understanding of medical conditions improves outcomes. Urological diseases are often complex and, thus, difficult to convey in an easily understandable manner,” the authors wrote. “This readability study shows that PEMs provided by the AUA and various academic urology centers are written at levels much too high for the average American reader to easily comprehend. PEMs may need to be simplified to facilitate better patient understanding of urological health topics.”