Many standardized methods are available with which to evaluate the reading ease and comprehensibility of written material. Techniques depend on mechanical analysis of sentence length, multiple prepositional phrases, direct phraseology, and arrangement of printed materials on the page. Those techniques were used to analyze a pamphlet designed for patient education by the American Academy of Dermatology. The pamphlet scored a reading ease grade of 45, corresponding to what is considered difficult reading and at a level commonly found in academic journals. We rewrote the pamphlet and increased its reading ease score to 62.4, corresponding to material that appears in standard digest-type magazines. We gave both versions of the pamphlet to a group of first-year medical students and to a group of middle-class patients from a dermatology practice. In both groups the modified version led to greater understanding of the written material. We conclude that the usefulness of patient education materials now being distributed by dermatologists could be significantly improved by being rewritten according to well-recognized formulas.
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