Quality, readability, and suitability of hearing health-related materials: A descriptive review

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American Journal of Audiology


Objectives: The objective of this descriptive review was to determine the quality, readability, and suitability of ear and hearing health information and materials for patients and their significant others. Method: A literature search was conducted between August 2018 and April 2019 in the databases CINAHL Complete, MEDLINE, and PsychInfo. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were used to shortlist studies. Data regarding quality, suitability, and readability were extracted from the included studies. Data were assessed qualitatively. Results: There were 34 studies included in this review. Of those, eight examined quality, 33 assessed readability, and four investigated the suitability of materials. The range of materials assessed included diagnostic reports, patient education materials (PEMs), patient-reported outcome measures, and websites. Quality elements were examined in studies focusing on website information. Findings indicated that most websites were of poor quality. Suitability was examined in studies focusing on PEMs such as hearing aid user guides. Findings indicated that most of the existing materials were not suitable for the intended populations. The reading grade level of information across all four categories was found to be higher than the recommended fifth or sixth reading grade level for health-related materials. Revisions of some diagnostic reports and PEMs showed that improvements are possible. Conclusions: This review suggests that ear-and hearing-related materials generally have lower quality and suitability with higher readability (more difficult to read). Development of materials that are suitable, of high quality, and at the appropriate readability levels is required to improve accessibility of ear-and hearing-related materials.

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