The Readability of Pediatric Dentistry Patient Education Materials
Rudgers Croft, Julie M.
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Pediatric dentists often use brochures to supplement educating the parents of their patients. However, the brochures given to the parents are often written at a higher reading level than their literacy level. The objective of this study was to investigate whether pediatric dental education materials, written at lower reading levels, will be better understood by their intended audience. This randomized control trial involved adults reading a brochure and answering questions. The AAPD brochure, “Sealants,” was chosen because the original version was written at a moderate reading level. The subject matter was applicable to a large audience, as sealants may be placed on most patients,. There were two versions of the brochure, an original and a version rewritten at a lower reading level, randomly assigned to participants. After reading a brochure, they were asked to answer a questionnaire regarding understanding of the material, self-reported evaluation of the brochure, non-identifying demographic information and previous dental experience. Data analysis revealed no significant differences in understanding scores between the brochure groups. The participants’ educational levels were used as mediating variables significance was shown involving a positive correlation with understanding. The mediating factors of ethnicity, the relationship to the child they accompanied, the age of the child they accompanied, their previous experience taking a child to the dentist, and their personal experience with sealants had no statistical effect. Participants’ self-reported evaluation of the brochure did not differ by brochure group. It appears that a relatively high education level of participants may have reduced the variation of response to the differing reading levels of the two brochures. It is still not clear if altering the readability of text is effective in improving comprehension for those with low literacy levels. Measuring and altering readability may be valuable in making educational materials more understandable. However, reducing reading levels with the use of readability formulas alone may not be as fruitful as advocates have previously suggested. The audience and their level of education and personal experiences, and the intent of the written materials all play a role in the comprehension of the material and must be taken into consideration.
Patient Education Material