Readability and suitability of implantable hearing device information published online in English. (2020)
Type of ContentElectronic Thesis or Dissertation
Degree NameMaster of Audiology
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
AuthorsGoddard, Matthewshow all
The aim of this Master of Audiology thesis was to investigate online English-language information relating to implantable hearing devices, such as cochlear implants, and bone-anchored hearing aids. Specific goals included: (1) to assess the readability of materials (Flesch-Kincaid, SMOG, Gunning-Fog), and relate this to adult literacy levels; (2), to assess suitability of online information (DISCERN, PEMAT, Plain Language, SAM+CAM), and relate this to search engine queries people use in order to research such information; and (3), to test whether or not organisation type, geographic location, and HONcode certification act as moderating factors on webpage readability and suitability. Methods included: surveying key search terms related to “implantable hearing devices,” obtained using convenience sampling (n=25), followed by refinement of search terms using Google Trends. Results showed that webpages placed high literacy demands on readers, requiring on average a 10-12th reading grade level for basic comprehension, which far exceeds recommendations set by several organisations. Serious shortcomings were also found concerning incomplete discussion of treatment choices, transparency of information sources, confusing visual aids, and frequent use of technical terms without sufficient lay explanation. Multivariate and univariate statistical analyses revealed no significant effect of webpage location, organisation type, or HONcode certification on readability and suitability measures. Conclusions: several aspects of webpage content design act as barriers to effective information gathering. However, neither HONcode certification nor web domain location nor organisation type seem to be among them.