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Readability Evaluations of Veterinary Client Handouts and Implications for Patient Care

Royal, Kenneth D., Katie Sheats, M., Kedrowicz, April A.
Topics in companion animal medicine 2018 v.33 no.2 pp. 58-61
National Institutes of Health, educational materials, health information, medicine, patient care, pet ownership, pets, professionals, readability, reading, teachers, veterinarians, veterinary medicine
Health literacy and readability are important considerations for veterinary medicine, as veterinarians commonly distribute brochures, leaflets and info-graphics to explain health related issues to pet owners. Educational materials that are poorly comprehended by the intended audience could result in negative, unintended consequences. Thus, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Medical Association (AMA) have recommended readability levels for text on health information be targeted between the fourth and sixth grade levels to accommodate a highly diverse public. In the context of veterinary medicine, an increased awareness among veterinary professionals and educators regarding readability scores and the tools available to generate “easy-to-read” text would likely benefit client adherence with veterinary recommendations, client satisfaction with their veterinarian, and ultimately, pet health.Therefore, the goal of this study was to evaluate the readability levels of a sample of popular client handout materials prepared expressly for veterinarians to download and distribute to their pet-owning clients. Results indicate that 9 of 10 client brochures were written above the recommended sixth grade reading level. Recommendations for improving readability are provided.