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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Volume 2017, Article ID 3681989, 9 pages
Research Article

Comparative Readability Analysis of Online Patient Education Resources on Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

1Department of Medicine, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, USA
2Department of Medicine, State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, USA
3Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
4Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Nikolaos T. Pyrsopoulos; ude.sregtur.smjn@inposryp

Received 20 October 2016; Revised 4 January 2017; Accepted 4 April 2017; Published 27 June 2017

Academic Editor: Maikel P. Peppelenbosch

Copyright © 2017 Rishabh Gulati et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. The National Institutes of Health recommend a readability grade level of less than 7th grade for patient directed information. In this study, we use validated readability metrics to analyze patient information from prominent websites pertaining to ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Methods. The terms “Crohn’s Disease,” “Ulcerative Colitis,” and “Inflammatory Bowel Disease” were queried on Google and Bing. Websites containing patient education material were saved as a text file and then modified through expungement of medical terminology that was described within the text. Modified text was then divided into subsections that were analyzed using six validated readability scales. Results. None of the websites analyzed in this study achieved an estimated reading grade level below the recommended 7th grade. The median readability grade level (after modification) was 11.5 grade levels for both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The treatment subsection required the highest level of education with a median readability grade of 12th grade (range of 6.9 to 17). Conclusion. Readability of online patient education material from the analyzed popular websites far exceeds the recommended level of being less than 7th grade. Patient education resources should be revised to achieve wider health literacy.