Copyright 1999 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.
Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.1999
In Reply: The readability and the reading level
of the JAMA Patient Page are among our major concerns in writing and producing
the page each week. Making the page helpful and understandable are our main
priorities. To that end, we instituted a number of changes at the beginning
of this year in an effort to make the page easier to read, including increasing
the font size and spacing between lines.1
Our own Flesch-Kincaid grade level analyses of all the pages produced from
January through the end of March of this year showed that the reading levels
are between 9.4 to 12.0, which fall within our target high school reading
level. One of the reasons for the high reading level scores of the Patient
Pages is that we routinely use technical medical terms (in bold face) followed
by a lay definition in parenthesis. The medical terms and the definitions
add complexity and length to the sentences. When we reanalyzed the Patient
Pages with the technical terms and parenthetical definitions removed, the
reading level decreased anywhere from 1 to 5 grade levels. Focus groups that
we surveyed late last year found that patients liked the use of technical
terms on the Patient Page because they heard the terms from their physicians
or in the media, but they did not know what they meant until they saw them
defined on the Patient Page. The focus group patients also said that the pages
were easy to read and understand.
Hwang MY, Glass RM. Health Literacy and the JAMA Patient Page—Reply. JAMA. 1999;282(6):525–527. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-282-6-jbk0811
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