Readability and suitability of online material relating to sudden sensory neural hearing loss (SSNHL). (2020)
Type of ContentElectronic Thesis or Dissertation
Degree NameMaster of Audiology
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
AuthorsHewitt, Carolshow all
Purpose: Previous research has found that online hearing health information is hard to read and of poor to adequate suitability and quality. This study investigated the readability and suitability of online information relating to SSNHL.
Methods: Common search terms were obtained from participants who were asked what they would search if they woke up with a sudden hearing loss. These search terms were entered into Google domains of countries were English is spoken. After duplicates were removed a total of 41 webpages were analysed. Webpages related to SSNHL from the first page of the Google search results were analysed. Webpages were analysed for both readability and suitability. Readability was measure using the mean readability scores for each webpage as measured using the FOG, SMOG and F-K readability formulas. Suitability was measured using the DISCERN, PEMAT and PL.
Results: Online health information relating to SSNHL had high readability and had “poor”- “adequate” suitability. The mean understandability score was 69% and the mean actionability score was 33% when rated using the PEMAT. The mean score from the PL was 15/20. The mean score from the DISCERN was 2.4. The mean RGL was 10.91, which is well above the recommended RGL <6. There was an even distribution of webpages based on location, however there were more “commercial” webpages than “other” webpages. “Commercial” webpages had a lower score for actionability compared to “other” webpages when assessed using the PEMAT. There were no other significant differences between type of organisation or location.
Conclusion: For people to be able to make informed health decisions they need to be presented with information that they can understand as well as suitable information that is of a good quality. The findings from this research indicate that the readability of online information about SSNHL is not appropriate for a large portion of the population. The suitability and quality is also below what is required for the general population. Therefore, people searching for online information relating to SSNHL may have difficulty reading and interpreting the webpages relating to SSNHL.