Helping Students Analyze Healthcare Websites for Readability and Appropriateness

Session Description
Healthcare educators include information about health literacy in program curricula, since deficits are associated with health disparities. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 defines health literacy as the “degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015, para 1). Unfortunately, almost 90% of Americans have difficulty understanding health information if it is unfamiliar or contains medical terms (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019).

Digital health literacy is one of the goals of Healthy People 2020 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010), since approximately eight million American use the internet daily to research health-related topics (Eltorai, Ghanian, Adams, Born & Daniels, 2014). Patients with chronic disease are more likely to obtain information from websites (Rew, Saenz, & Walker, 2018). One concern is that unreliable websites may provide incorrect information to patients. Another concern is that the average readability of some consumer patient education websites is at 10.9, which exceeds the recommended sixth grade reading level (Bedaiwi, Alfaraj, & Pines, 2018).

This describes a learning activity in a graduate nursing program for a Patient Education and Advocacy course. Students analyzed national healthcare websites for readability, design, layout, cultural sensitivity, and appropriateness for a rural, low-health literacy population. Students obtained increased awareness of the issues of readability and appropriateness of information on national healthcare websites, better preparing them to educate patients in digital health literacy.

Tracy P. George
Tracy P. George, Francis Marion University, SC
Dr. Tracy George is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Francis Marion University. She has worked as a family nurse practitioner since 1999 in a variety of settings. Since 2012, she has taught undergraduate and graduate nursing courses. She has published and presented on the scholarship of teaching and learning, shared decision-making, and clinical nursing topics. Tracy has written several peer-reviewed articles and textbook chapters.
Claire DeCristofaro
Claire DeCristofaro, Ashford University, CA
Claire DeCristofaro, MD is a graduate of Hunter College of CUNY and Albert Einstein Medical School, both in New York City. Her family practice has been in both urban and rural sites in New York City, Tennessee and South Carolina. She is a full-time faculty member at Ashford University in the College of Arts & Sciences, aligned with the Behavioral Sciences deaprtment, and also teaching in the Gerontology and Health & Wellness programs. Other professional activities include serving as a federal grant reviewer for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). As university faculty, she has taught in multiple graduate and undergraduate healthcare and behavioral health programs, with an additional interest in continuing education for APRNs, physicians, pharmacists and physician assistants on a wide variety of topics, including her AHEC online courses on controlled substance prescribing and clinical topics. Her scholarship has included publications and conference presentations on healthcare topics as well as the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Session Type
20-Minute Session
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