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Dermatology Online Journal

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The readability of online patient information about laser resurfacing therapy

  • Author(s): Sharma, Ajay N;
  • Martin, Brent;
  • Shive, Melissa;
  • Zachary, Christopher B
  • et al.
Abstract

Because there are important distinctions between ablative and non-ablative laser resurfacing, accurate and effective patient education is paramount. However, as more patients use the internet as a resource for medical information, little is known about the content and readability of these sources. Thus, we sought to evaluate the readability of major online resources about laser resurfacing while recognizing the recommendations by the American Medical Association and National Institutes of Health. An internet search for the term "Laser Resurfacing" was performed. The first 9 results were identified, patient information from each of these 9 sites were downloaded, and a total of 25 articles were examined. Readability was analyzed using 7 different established tests. Analysis demonstrated an average grade level of at least 9th grade, with all articles exceeding the recommended 6th grade reading level, emphasizing that these resources are too challenging for many patients to read and comprehend. Such materials may hamper appropriate decision-making in patients considering the use of a laser for their dermatologic conditions. The potential detrimental effect on the opinion, participation, and satisfaction of laser resurfacing should spur dermatologists to be more critical of online patient materials and motivated to produce more appropriate resources.

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