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The readability of patient handouts from an inner regional hospital emergency department


van der Ploeg, WJ and Towle, NJ, The readability of patient handouts from an inner regional hospital emergency department, Australian Journal of Rural Health, 20, (4) pp. 226-227. ISSN 1038-5282 (2012) [Contribution to Refereed Journal]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2012 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1440-1584.2012.01285.x


Written patient handouts are commonly used in hospital emergency departments to supplement doctors’ oral instructions and provide patients with a hard copy they can retain for future reference. The handouts are typically one to two pages in length and given to patients as part of their discharge instructions. Preparing handouts can be challenging because they need to communicate often complex information in a way that is both intelligible and useful to the reader. Text that is difficult to read and understand – has low readability – may prevent people from actively participating in their own care and using health care services effectively. In the most recent Australian survey of health literacy, the 2006 Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey (ALLS), 63.4% of Tasmanians aged 15–74 years were found to have insufficient health literacy to understand and use health information.1 This was equal only to the Northern Territory as the lowest health literacy level across the nation. These data suggest the likelihood of a mismatch between the readability of patient handouts and the health literacy skills of the people required to use them. This short report is on a readability analysis conducted on patient handouts issued through an emergency department of an inner regional teaching hospital in North West Tasmania. It represents the first stage of a study that will determine whether the readability of the handouts appropriately matches the health literacy of the people required to use them.

Item Details

Item Type:Contribution to Refereed Journal
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Health and community services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Evaluation of health and support services
Objective Field:Health education and promotion
UTAS Author:van der Ploeg, WJ (Dr Winifred Van Der Ploeg)
UTAS Author:Towle, NJ (Dr Nick Towle)
ID Code:82866
Year Published:2012
Deposited By:Faculty of Health
Deposited On:2013-02-20
Last Modified:2013-06-11

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