Readability and quality of online information regarding tinnitus in the Spanish language.
Thesis DisciplineSpeech and Language Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Audiology
Background: Tinnitus is a common symptom of multiple different audiological impairments which can lead to negative psychological ramifications for some people. Given the link between low health literacy and poor health outcomes, it is important to analyse the information available to the public regarding tinnitus. As more people turn to the internet as their initial source of health information, analyses of quality and readability of tinnitus information available online is a necessary direction for current research.
Although Spanish is the second most spoken global language, few published health studies on readability and quality have investigated online Spanish-language health information, thereby creating a need specifically regarding the topic of Spanish-language tinnitus information.
Method: The terms tinnitus, acúfenos, pitido en los oídos, and zumbido en los oídos were typed into the search engine Google, for each of the 24 different country-coded Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs), and the first 10 webpages were saved for analysis. Four readability formulas (RFs) were used to assess readability: SOL, Rate Index, Gilliam-Peña-Mountain Graph and Crawford. The presence of HON code certification was recorded and the DISCERN tool was used to analyse the quality of the individual webpage.
Results: Forty-four Spanish language webpages on tinnitus were analysed. Of this sample, the mean reading grade level (RGL) was 9.58, a score which significantly exceeds the recommended 6th grade level. Only three webpages displayed HON code certification, and in general the quality of the sample was low with a mean DISCERN score of 2.20.
Conclusions: Online Spanish-language information on tinnitus is generally not accessible to a wide audience because of poor readability. The general low quality of the information could mean the information Spanish-speakers are accessing is potentially erroneous, misleading or biased. Clinician and web-developers need to be aware of health literacy issues such as readability and quality and use validated instruments, such as DISCERN, HON code and readability formulas to try to improve online Spanish tinnitus literature.