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Most Radiology Sites for Public Not at Appropriate Reading Levels


Radiology sites are popular among the public who want to learn more about radiology procedures.

The grade-level readability of radiology websites geared towards the general public tends to be too high, which may make it difficult for readers to benefit from the resources, according to a study published in Abdominal Radiology.

Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, in Philadelphia, PA, the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and Pittsburgh Medical Center, in PA, sought to evaluate the readability level of patient education websites, written for the lay public, pertaining to common radiologic diagnostic test, and radiologic diagnoses specific to abdominal imaging.

The researchers gathered 100 articles from the top 10 links corresponding to their Google search for target websites, using terms such as CT abdomen, MRI abdomen, MRI enterography, ultrasound abdomen, X-ray abdomen, cholecystitis, diverticulitis, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and pancreatitis. Websites not written exclusively for patients were excluded from the analysis.

The results showed that the 100 articles were assessed at an 11.7 grade level. Only two (2%) were written at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and American Medical Association (AMA) suggested 3rd to 7th grade level to meet the 8th grade average reading level in the United States. Almost half, 49%, were written at a greater than 12th grade level, meaning they required a high school education or higher in reading ability.

The researchers concluded that there is public interest in radiology information, but the discordance between the level of readability of the majority of Internet articles and the NIH and AMA guidelines noted in this study on abdominal imaging readability, may result in many readers not fully benefiting from these resources.

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