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Health literacy and the Internet: a study on the readability of Australian online health information

Cheng, Christina and Dunn, Matthew 2015, Health literacy and the Internet: a study on the readability of Australian online health information, Australian and New Zealand journal of public health, vol. 39, no. 4, pp. 309-314, doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12341.

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Title Health literacy and the Internet: a study on the readability of Australian online health information
Author(s) Cheng, Christina
Dunn, MatthewORCID iD for Dunn, Matthew orcid.org/0000-0003-4615-5078
Journal name Australian and New Zealand journal of public health
Volume number 39
Issue number 4
Start page 309
End page 314
Total pages 6
Publisher Wiley
Place of publication North Melbourne, Vic.
Publication date 2015
ISSN 1753-6405
Keyword(s) Internet
health literacy
readability
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
WEB
PREVALENCE
WEBSITES
Summary OBJECTIVE: Almost 80% of Australian Internet users seek out health information online so the readability of this information is important. This study aimed to evaluate the readability of Australian online health information and determine if it matches the average reading level of Australians. METHODS: Two hundred and fifty-one web pages with information on 12 common health conditions were identified across sectors. Readability was assessed by the Flesch-Kincaid (F-K), Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG) and Flesch Reading Ease (FRE) formulas, with grade 8 adopted as the average Australian reading level. RESULTS: The average reading grade measured by F-K and SMOG was 10.54 and 12.12 respectively. The mean FRE was 47.54, a 'difficult-to-read' score. Only 0.4% of web pages were written at or below grade 8 according to SMOG. Information on dementia was the most difficult to read overall, while obesity was the most difficult among government websites. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: The findings suggest that the readability of Australian health websites is above the average Australian levels of reading. A quantifiable guideline is needed to ensure online health information accommodates the reading needs of the general public to effectively use the Internet as an enabler of health literacy.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/1753-6405.12341
Field of Research 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 920499 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2015, Wiley
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30075274

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: School of Health and Social Development
Population Health
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