Background. Asthma is the most prevalent chronic illness affecting 10% of the pediatric population. The internet is a useful tool for acquiring information on health topics. In a recent Harris Poll, 154 million adults searched the Internet for health information. The usefulness of asthma materials on the Internet depends on the ability to read and comprehend the information. The goal of this study was to assess the readability of asthma Web sites. Methods. The authors studied the readability of 6 asthma Web sites that have been previously evaluated for quality and accuracy of information. The Flesch/Flesch-Kincaid tools were used to evaluate readability and reading ease of the materials on each of the Web sites with the use of Microsoft Office Word software. Results. Materials included in the 6 Web sites were analyzed. The information included in the Web sites had a readability index between 46.6 and 63.5, with a mean of 54.33 on the Flesch reading ease. The mean Flesch-Kincaid grade level was found to be between 8.0 and 10.3, with an average grade level of 9.73. Conclusions. Findings suggest that readability scores on asthma Web sites are high for the average consumer. Research has shown that patient educational materials should be no higher than a sixth-grade reading level. Practice Implications. Asthma educational materials on the Internet carry the risk of having incomprehensible materials disseminated to patients and their families. Asthma educators need to understand the role of the Internet and health information and guide their patients and their families to accurate, comprehensible, and readable Web sites.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine