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June 1994

Readability of the Childhood Immunization Information Forms

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pediatrics (Drs Melman, Kaplan, and Anbar) and Medicine (Dr Caloustian), Hahnemann University Hospital; and the Center for Literacy (Mss Weinberger and Smith), Philadelphia, Pa. Dr Caloustian is now with the Department of Anesthesiology, Cornell University Medical Center, New York, NY. Ms Smith is now with the SYDA Foundation, South Fallsburg, NY.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1994;148(6):642-644. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1994.02170060096019

Objective:  To compare the reading level required to understand childhood immunization information forms with the reading grade level of an inner-city parent/caretaker population.

Design:  Descriptive study (parents/caretakers).

Setting:  Inner-city pediatric clinic.

Participants:  One hundred fifty English-speaking, low-income parent/caretakers.

Interventions:  None.

Measurements/Main Results:  The reading level of our parent population ranged from grades 2.9 to 13.3, with a median grade level of 6.90. The reading levels required for the three vaccine information pamphlets issued in 1992 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, Ga) averaged 11.1 (approximately at the level of a high school junior). Eighty-six percent of our parents/caretakers did not have a reading level sufficient to cope with the easiest of the forms.

Conclusions:  The vaccine information pamphlets require a reading level beyond the capability of the vast majority of our parent population. Therefore, the goal of informed consent clearly is not being met.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1994;148:642-644)