Health literacy in vascular and interventional radiology: a comparative analysis of online patient education resources

Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2014 Aug;37(4):1034-40. doi: 10.1007/s00270-013-0752-6. Epub 2014 Jan 31.


Purpose: The Internet is frequently accessed by patients as a resource for medical knowledge. However, the provided material is typically written at a level well above the recommended 7th grade level. A clear understanding of the capabilities, limitations, risks, and benefits of interventional radiology by patients, both current and prospective, is hindered when the textual information offered to the public is pitched at a level of sophistication too high for general comprehension.

Methods: In January 2013, all 25 patient education resources from the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology Society of Europe (CIRSE) Web site ( ) and all 31 resources from the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) Web site ( ) were analyzed for their specific level of readability using ten quantitative scales: Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, Simple Measure of Gobbledygook, Gunning fog index, New Fog Count, Coleman-Liau index, FORCAST formula, Fry graph, Raygor Readability Estimate, and New Dale-Chall.

Results: Collectively, the patient education resources on the CIRSE Web site are written at the 12.3 grade level, while the resources on the SIR Web site are written at the 14.5 grade level.

Conclusion: Educational health care materials available on both the CIRSE and the SIR Web sites are presented in language in the aggregate that could be too difficult for many lay people to fully understand. Given the complex nature of vascular and interventional radiology, it may be advantageous to rewrite these educational resources at a lower reading level to increase comprehension.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Comprehension
  • Health Literacy*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Radiography, Interventional*
  • Societies, Medical