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An analysis of the readability characteristics of oral health information literature available to the public in Tasmania, Australia


Barnett, T and Hoang, H and Furlan, A, An analysis of the readability characteristics of oral health information literature available to the public in Tasmania, Australia, Bmc Oral Health, 16 Article 35. ISSN 1472-6831 (2016) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

2016 Barnett et al. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4)

DOI: doi:10.1186/s12903-016-0196-x


Background: The effectiveness of print-based health promotion materials is dependent on their readability. This study aimed to assess the characteristics of print-based oral health information literature publically available in Tasmania, Australia.

Methods: Oral health education brochures were collected from 11 dental clinics across Tasmania and assessed for structure and format, content and readability. Reading level was calculated using three widely-used measures: Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL), Flesch Reading Ease, and Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG) reading grade level.

Results: The FKGL of the 67 brochures sampled ranged from grade 3 to 13. The grade level for government health department brochures (n=14) ranged from grade 4 to 11 (5.61.8). Reading levels for materials produced by commercial sources (n=22) ranged from 3 to 13 (8.32.1), those from professional associations (n = 22) ranged from grade 7 to 11 (8.9  0.9) and brochures produced by other sources (n=9) ranged from 5 to 10 (7.6  1.5). The SMOG test was positively correlated with the FKGL (rs=0.92, p<0.001) though consistently rated materials 2-3 grades higher. The reading level required to comprehend brochures published by government sources were, on average, lower than those from commercial, professional and other sources. Government materials were also more likely to contain fewer words and professional jargon terms than brochures from the other sources.

Conclusion: A range of oral health information brochures were publically available for patients in both public and private dental clinics. However, their readability characteristics differed. Many brochures required a reading skill level higher than that suited to a large proportion of the Tasmanian population. Readability and other characteristics of oral health education materials should be assessed to ensure their suitability for use with patients, especially those suspected of having low literacy skills.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:oral health, health education and promotion materials, dental, health literacy, readability
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Public health
Research Field:Health promotion
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Evaluation of health and support services
Objective Field:Health education and promotion
UTAS Author:Barnett, T (Associate Professor Tony Barnett)
UTAS Author:Hoang, H (Dr Ha Hoang)
ID Code:107587
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:10
Deposited By:UTAS Centre for Rural Health
Deposited On:2016-03-18
Last Modified:2017-11-07
Downloads:170 View Download Statistics

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