Readability of Online Patient Educational Materials for Coronary Artery Calcium Scans and Implications for Health Disparities.
Journal of the American Heart Association
Background Coronary artery calcium (CAC) scans can help reclassify risk and guide patient-clinician shared treatment decisions for cardiovascular disease prevention. Patients increasingly access online patient educational materials (OPEMs) to guide medical decision-making. The American Medical Association (AMA) recommends that OPEMs should be written below a 6th-grade reading level. This study estimated the readability of commonly accessed OPEMs on CAC scans. Methods and Results The terms "coronary artery calcium scan," "heart scan," and "CAC score" were queried using an online search engine to identify the top 50 commonly accessed websites based on order of search results on December 17, 2019. Grade-level readability was calculated using generalized estimating equations, with observations nested within readability metrics from each website. Results were compared with AMA-recommended readability parameters. Overall grade-level readability among all search terms was 10.9 (95% CI, 9.3-12.5). Average grade-level readability of OPEMs for the search terms "coronary artery calcium scan," "heart scan," and "CAC score," was 10.7 (95% CI, 9.0-12.5), 10.5 (95% CI, 8.9-12.1), and 11.9 (95% CI, 10.3-13.5), respectively. Professional society and news/media/blog websites had the highest average reading grade level of 12.6, while health system websites had the lowest average reading grade level of 10.0. Less than half of the unique websites (45.3%) included explanatory images or videos. Conclusions Current OPEMs on CAC scans are written at a higher reading level than recommended for the general public. This may lead to patient misunderstanding, which could exacerbate disparities in cardiovascular health among groups with lower health literacy.
View details for DOI 10.1161/JAHA.120.017372
View details for PubMedID 32865121