Readability and quality of online information regarding the hearing disorder “Auditory Processing Disorder” in English. (2020)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Thesis DisciplineSpeech and Language Sciences
Degree NameMaster of Audiology
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
Purpose: This study investigated the readability and quality of online information available for the hearing disorder called “Auditory Processing Disorder” (APD) written in the English language.
Method: The search terms “auditory processing disorder” and “APD” were used in 21 English speaking country specific Google domains. The first ten relevant webpages were captured. After removing duplicates, a total of 210 webpages were assessed and further subsampled ensuring the geographic distributions were even and giving a total sample size of 108. The country of origin, type of organisation (commercial and other), and HONcode certification were recorded for each webpage. Readability was assessed using the FOG, SMOG, and F-K readability formulas. Quality was assessed using the DISCERN and PEMAT tools. The language was assessed using the Plain English Language Assessment Tool.
Results: Online APD information in English was found to have high readability levels and none of the webpages met the recommended sixth RGL. The Quality assessed by the DISCERN tool was variable with almost half the materials scoring the minimum score. The PEMAT results showed better understandability scores and worse actionability scores. There was an even distribution of webpages based on region and type of organisation. There were no significant differences in readability, or the quality of webpages based on their region, but the type of organisation had a significant effect. The non-commercial webpages (government and academic sources) had worse readability and quality scores compared to commercial webpages.
Conclusions: The effectiveness of online information to increase health literacy is largely determined by the readability and the quality of current online materials. Given the niche nature of the hearing disorder APD, accessible resources are an important aspect of improving the awareness of the disorder. The current online materials have been found to have limited usefulness in increasing the health literacy due to high levels of readability and the large variation in the material’s quality. There is a need to development new materials that embrace Plain Language initiatives to produce more easily understood materials of high quality.
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