Plastic Surgery Research Council
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PSRC 60th Annual Meeting

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Readability Assessment of Online Patient Resources for Breast Augmentation
Christina R. Vargas, MD, Bernard T. Lee, MD, MBA.
Beth Isreal Deaconess Medical Center / Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA.

PURPOSE:
Patients increasingly rely on internet resources in evaluating their medical concerns, deciding to seek care, and understanding elective procedures. Well-informed patients are more likely to be active participants in their healthcare, contributing to higher satisfaction and better overall outcomes. Access to online patient material, however, is limited for a significant portion of United States adults by inadequate functional health literacy. As such, the National Institutes of Health and American Medical Association recommend that patient educational content should be written at a sixth grade reading level. This study aims to assess the readability of the most popular online patient resources regarding breast augmentation in the context of average adult American literacy.
METHODS:
A web search for "breast implant surgery" was performed using the two largest public search engines. After sponsored results were excluded, the twelve most accessed sites common to both searches were identified. Patient-directed information from all relevant articles immediately linked from the main site was downloaded and formatted in plain text. The readability of 110 articles was evaluated using 10 established analyses: Coleman-Liau Index, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, Flesch Reading Ease, FORCAST Formula, Fry Graph, Gunning Fog Index, New Dale-Chall, New Fog Count, Raygor Readability Estimate, and SMOG Readability Formula.
RESULTS:
The overall average readability of the twelve most popular internet resources for breast augmentation was 13. The Raygor readability estimate for the 110 articles combined was 15th grade, with a range from 8th to 17th grade.


CONCLUSION:
Online patient resources for breast augmentation exceed the recommended reading level, limiting their accessibility for a significant portion of American adults.


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