Can people with multiple sclerosis actually understand what they read in the Internet age?

Highlights

• Most frequently viewed websites for patients with MS failed to meet NIH guidelines.
• The narrative complexity of websites may prevent transmission of health information.
• The high educational level to understand most websites worsens health inequalities.
• Information should be easily comprehensible to people of all socioeconomics.
• Patient-oriented websites should comply with minimum readability policies.

Abstract

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) frequently report difficulties in finding personally relevant information on the Internet. With this in mind, the Google top-ten patient-oriented results were analysed for their overall level of readability. The most commonly visited websites required an average grade level of 11.74 ± 1.54, and an average number of years of formal education of 12.78 ± 1.82, to be easily understood. The average Flesch Reading Ease readability index is 45.26 ± 7.35, a difficult-to-read score. The high educational level required to easily understand most websites worsens health inequalities, not allowing a full participation in health information and decision making.

via Journal of Clinical NeuroSci

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