Plastic Surgery Research Council
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PSRC 60th Annual Meeting

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Readability of Online Patient Resources for Breast Reduction
Danielle J. Chuang, .1, Christina R. Vargas, MD2, Bernard T. Lee, MD, MBA2.
1University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA, 2Beth Isreal Deaconess Medical Center / Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA.

PURPOSE:
Access to educational patient health information has been recognized as an important tool in promoting patient and family involvement in medical decision-making, and thereby contributing to higher satisfaction and improved overall outcomes. Internet resources have become more widely available and are increasingly relied upon by patients in evaluating their concerns, deciding to seek care, and understanding procedures. Access to this material, however, is limited by functional health literacy for a significant portion of the adult United States population. The National Institutes of Health and American Medical Association recommend that patient-directed content should be written at a sixth grade reading level. This study aims to evaluate the readability of the most commonly used online patient resources for breast reduction relative to average adult literacy in the United States.
METHODS:
The two largest public internet search engines were queried for "breast reduction surgery" and the top fourteen sites common to both searches were identified. Sponsored results were excluded. Relevant patient-targeted content was downloaded from all articles directly accessible from the main sites. Readability of a total of 113 articles was assessed using 10 established analyses: Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch Kincaid Grade Level, SMOG Readability Formula, Coleman-Liau Index, Gunning Fog Index, New Fog Count, New Dale-Chall, FORCAST Formula, Raygor Readability Estimate, and Fry Graph.
RESULTS:
Online resources for breast reduction from the fourteen most popular internet sites had an average overall average reading level of 13.2. The Fry readability estimate was 13, with a range from 7th to 17th grade.
CONCLUSION:
Available internet resources for patient information about breast reduction uniformly exceed the recommended reading level and are too difficult to be understood by a large portion of American adults.


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