Analysis of stroke patients' and carers' reading ability and the content and design of written materials: Recommendations for improving written stroke information

T Hoffmann*, K McKenna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study (a) evaluated the reading ability of patients following stroke and their carers and the reading level and content and design characteristics of the written information provided to them, (b) explored the influence of sociodemographic and clinical characteristics on patients' reading ability, and (c) described an education package that provides well-designed information tailored to patients' and carers' informational needs.

Methods: Fifty-seven patients and 12 carers were interviewed about their informational needs in an acute stroke unit. Their reading ability was assessed using the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM). The written information provided to them in the acute stroke unit was analysed using the SMOG readability formula and the Suitability Assessment of Materials (SAM).

Results: Thirteen (22.8%) patients and 5 (41.7%) carers had received written stroke information. The mean reading level of materials analysed was 11th grade while patients read at a mean of 7-8th grade. Most materials (89%) scored as only adequate in content and design. Patients with combined aphasia read significantly lower (4-6th grade) than other patients (p = 0.001).

Conclusion: Only a small proportion of patients and carers received written materials about stroke and the readability level and content and design characteristics of most materials required improvement.

Practice implications: When developing and distributing written materials about stroke, health professionals should consider the reading ability and informational needs of the recipients, and the reading level and content and design characteristics of the written materials. A computer system can be used to generate written materials tailored to the informational needs and literacy skills of patients and carers. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-293
Number of pages8
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes
EventBi-Annual Meeting of the European-Association-for-Communication-in-Healthcare (EACH) - Brugge, Belgium
Duration: 14 Sep 200417 Sep 2004

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