Improvement Needed in Hospitals’ Mammography Educational Material

September 29, 2016

Few hospitals offer online material regarding mammograms that are easily understood by the general public.

More than half of hospitals that offer screening mammography services provide online mammography educational material, but much of this material is not easily understood by the general public, according to a study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Researchers from Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, GA, and the University of Georgia in Athens, sought to determine the quality and reading level of online mammography material offered by Medicare-recognized hospitals across the U.S.

The researchers identified the online mammography patient educational material for which screening mammography metrics were publicly available, and assessed them with six validated readability score algorithms.

A total of 3,253 out of 4,104 hospitals had websites and provided screening mammography services. Of these hospitals, 1,753 (54%) provided mammography information to the general public, online; 1,524 were assessed for grade level scores.

The results showed that only 919 hospitals (28%) referenced any professional society guidelines to help patients access specific information. Individually, only 14 hospitals (0.4%) had mean reading scores at or below the 7th grade level, the average reading level of Americans. Nationally, the mean of each readability score for all hospitals varied between the 10th and 14th grade levels, all higher than the recommended 7th grade level.

The researchers concluded that many health systems are not meeting women’s health information and literacy needs, with few offering information at recommended reading levels for the general public.