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Neurology Patient Education Materials: Do Our Educational Aids Fit Our Patients' Needs?

Murphy Peggy W.; Chesson, Andrew L.; Berman, Stephen A.; Arnold, Connie L.; Galloway, Gloria
Journal of Neuroscience Nursing: April 2001
Articles: PDF Only


The purpose of this study was to assess the suit ability of various neurology patient education brochures, as well as neurology information on the World Wide Web, to determine whether they were appropriate for patients with low literacy. A convenience sample of 520 patients in university- based public and private neurology clinics participated. In this cross-sectional study, the patients' reading levels were assessed by using the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine. Forty-three patient education materials were assessed for read ing level by using the Fog Index and for suitability character istics (including content, type and relevance of graphics, layout, type size and fonts, and motivating qualities) by using the Suitability Assessment of Materials. The mean education level of patients was 12th grade; however, the mean reading level was 7th-8th grade. Of the assessed materials, 91% were written at a 9th-grade level or above, even though only 58% of patients read at a 9th-grade level. Only 14% of the materials were considered to have superior suitability, whereas 58% were adequate, and 28% were determined not suitable. Thus, the available neurology patient education aids are not matched to the patient population or to the average U.S. reading levels. Ideally, information needs to be written at a 9th-grade level or below. Instructional graphics, simpler words, patient interac tion, and cultural sensitivity improve material suitability.

Questions or comments about this article may be directed to: Peggy W. Murphy, PhD, Dean's Office, LSUHSC-S, PO Box 33932, Shreve port, LA 71130–3932. Dr. Murphy is an assistant professor, Depart ment of Medicine, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.

Andrew L. Chesson, MD, is the associate dean of academic affairs and a professor in the Department of Neurology, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.

Stephen A. Berman, MD PhD, is chief of neurology services. White River Junction VA Hospital. Dr. Berman also is a professor of medi cine (neurology), Dartmouth Medical College. Connie L. Arnold, PhD, is an assistant professor, Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics. Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

Gloria Galloway, MD, is an associate professor. Departments of Neu rology and Pediatrics. Children's Hospital and Medical Center. The Ohio State University School of Medicine.

© 2001 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses