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Critical Assessment of Online Patient Materials

J Dermatolog Treat; ePub 2017 Sep 4; Bui, et al

Online psoriasis patient educational materials are understandable and suitable, but they are written above the American Medical Association and National Institutes of Health’s recommended 6th-8th grade reading level and are not actionable, according to a recent investigation. Therefore, materials can benefit from decreasing reading grade level, including more visual elements, incorporating more actionable items, and being culturally inclusive. Researchers conducted an evaluation study to assess online psoriasis patient educational materials from the American Academy of Dermatology and National Psoriasis Foundation available in July 2017. They used 2 validated assessment tools specific to online healthcare materials. Outcomes were expressed as percentages, where higher percentages corresponded to higher quality materials. They found:

  • Overall, the educational materials had a mean understandability score (72.7%) that was understandable; a suitability score (58.8%) that was adequate; a reading grade level (10.5) that was not readable; and an actionability score (54.7%) that was not actionable.
  • Areas of improvement include reading grade level, visual aids, word choice, specific steps for actions, and cultural appropriateness.


Bui T-L, Silva-Hirschberg C, Torres J, Armstrong AW. Are patients comprehending? A critical assessment of online patient educational materials. [Published online ahead of print September 4, 2017]. J Dermatolog Treat. doi:10.1080/09546634.2017.1372558.