A readability analysis of French language online information on hearing related websites.
Thesis DisciplineSpeech and Language Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Audiology
Introduction. The aim of this study was to provide a readability assessment of audiological and hearing-related websites in the French language found through country-specific search engines in localities where French is the national language.
Methods. Informers from 19 French speaking countries were asked to provide French search terms for the English equivalents of ‘hearing loss’, ‘deafness’ and ‘hearing aids’. The resulting 64 unique search terms were then entered into the country-specific Google search engines that matched the informants’ countries of residence. For each search performed, the first ten results were collated for readability analysis, location of website origin, type of organisation (commercial, non-profit or governmental) and whether they had HONcode certification. Readability analyses were conducted through an online readability tool provided by Recherche Clinique Paris Centre on theie website, which measured readability of each website's full-length text using an adaptation of the Flesch-Kincaid formula for the French language.
Results. The readability of the 432 unique websites analysed was found to be at a college RGL which exceeds by far the 6th RGL recommended by experts. France and Germany represented the origin of 60% of the websites. Less than 5% of the websites were linked with governmental institutions, 62,5 % were assessed as being commercial and almost one third of the websites were judged to be non-profit. Most of the websites (86%) did not have HONcode certification. A significant difference in mean readability was observed only for websites originating in some locations. No significant effect of type of organization was found on websites readability.
Conclusion. Results of this study show a scarcity of French-language hearing-related websites in easily-comprehensible language. Hearing professionals and web creators need to be aware of the range of health literacy levels of the general public and ensure that hearing websites are written and presented with high-quality content in plain language. Patients should be directed to such websites by professionals and health agencies.