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# Easy-to-Read Health Materials (NLM Boost Box)

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Slides were given as part of a presentation hosted by the National Library of Medicine's Boost Box program. The description of the session:
Miraida Morales will discuss the challenges of using easy-to-read health materials, such as their high reading level, lack of control or standardization of readability, and problems with readability formulas. In this session she will offer practical solutions for what librarians and other professionals can do to minimize these issues for our communities. Miraida will also share her research findings on how adult beginning and developing readers evaluate health information materials.

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### Easy-to-Read Health Materials (NLM Boost Box)

1. 1. EASY-TO-READ HEALTH MATERIALS: Are they really? Slides created by Miraida Morales for the National Library of Medicine Copyright 2016 Use only with permission
2. 2. Introduction Miraida Morales Ph.D. Candidate, Rutgers University Health Literacy | Adult New Readers | Community Health Practices
3. 3. Agenda Readability formulas What are they? How do they work? Limitations Should we be using these formulas on health materials? Case Studies How do different people evaluate health information?
4. 4. Readability a quality that determines how easy are texts to read for a particular individual, but... identifying just what makes texts easy to read remains a problem... especially for health materials
5. 5. WHY? Readability is usually determined through the application of formulas to text
6. 6. Flesch Kincaid Grade Level = (0.39 x ASL) + (11.8 x ASW) - 15.59 Dale Chall = (Raw Score = 0.1579 * (PDW) + 0.0496 * ASL) SMOG Formula = SO MANY FORMULAS ! The formulas do not take into account meaning.
7. 7. How do these formulas work? They count the average length of words (syllables) They count the average number of words in a sentence They match these counts to grade levels
8. 8. Assumptions longer words are more rare than shorter words in English & longer sentences have more complex structure
9. 9. Limitation #1 Health materials include lots of “rare” or long words.
10. 10. Limitation #2 Shorter texts are not always better.
11. 11. Limitation #3 Readability formulas were developed using educational texts, often for educational purposes.
13. 13. Limitation #5 Readability formulas can only assess complete sentences.
14. 14. The big picture.
15. 15. Let’s look at an example Although gestational diabetes is a serious condition, you can learn how to take care of it and prevent problems for you and your baby. Because the placenta leaves your body when the baby is delivered, gestational diabetes usually goes away when the baby is born. (American Diabetes Association)
16. 16. Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 12.7 Average syllable length: 1.88 Average words per sentence: 16
18. 18. Problem #1 Who is responsible for determining the readability of health materials?
19. 19. Problem #2 Is everyone using the same method to determine readability of health materials?
20. 20. Problem #3 Health information tends to be rather difficult to read. How do we simplify it?
21. 21. There’s some good news...
22. 22. Going beyond Easy-to- Read materials Don’t need to only rely on docs in the Easy-to-Read collection Readability of these documents doesn’t vary that much from documents not included in this collection. This means we have a bigger selection of topics available. Readability formulas are not necessarily applicable to health materials. Vocabulary and sentence length assumptions built into readability formulas don’t hold for health materials. Health materials tend to over-index on long words. Health materials don’t always include full sentences (e.g. bulleted lists, phases, etc.).
23. 23. “Besides word and sentence length, what features of text and reader might better determine the readability of health materials for adult new readers?