Health information text characteristics.

Gondy Leroy, Evren Eryilmaz, Benjamin T. Laroya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Millions of people search online for medical text, but these texts are often too complicated to understand. Readability evaluations are mostly based on surface metrics such as character or words counts and sentence syntax, but content is ignored. We compared four types of documents, easy and difficult WebMD documents, patient blogs, and patient educational material, for surface and content-based metrics. The documents differed significantly in reading grade levels and vocabulary used. WebMD pages with high readability also used terminology that was more consumer-friendly. Moreover, difficult documents are harder to understand due to their grammar and word choice and because they discuss more difficult topics. This indicates that we can simplify many documents by focusing on word choice in addition to sentence structure, however, for difficult documents this may be insufficient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-483
Number of pages5
JournalAMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings / AMIA Symposium. AMIA Symposium
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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