A comparison of text versus audio for information comprehension with future uses for smart speakers

Gondy Leroy, David Kauchak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Audio is increasingly used to access information on the Internet through virtual assistants and smart speakers. Our objective is to evaluate the distribution of health information through audio. Materials and Methods: We conducted 2 studies to compare comprehension after reading or listening to information using a new corpus containing short text snippets from Cochrane (N=50) and Wikipedia (N=50). In study 1, the snippets were first presented as audio or text followed by a multiple-choice question. Then, the same information was presented as text and the question was repeated in addition to questions about perceived difficulty, severity and the likelihood of encountering the disease. In study 2, the first multiple-choice question was replaced with a free recall question. Results: Study 1 showed that information comprehension is very similar in both presentation modes (53% accuracy for text and 55% for audio). Study 2 showed that information retention is higher with text, but similar comprehension. Both studies show improvement in performance with repeated information presentation. Discussion: Audio presentation of information is effective and the format novel. Performance was slightly lower with audio when asked to repeat information, but comparable to text for answering questions. Additional studies are needed with different types of information and presentation combinations. Conclusion: The use of audio to provide health information is a promising field and will become increasingly important with the popularity of smart speakers and virtual assistants, particularly for consumers who do not use computers, for example minority groups, or those with limited sight or motor control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-260
Number of pages7
JournalJAMIA Open
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019


  • Audio
  • Comprehension
  • Smart speakers
  • health Literacy user study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


Dive into the research topics of 'A comparison of text versus audio for information comprehension with future uses for smart speakers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this