A strategy for designing effective patient education materials

B. J. McCabe, J. W. Tysinger, M. Kreger, A. C. Currwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Health care professionals have long voiced a concern about the mismatch between patients' reading skills and the readability of printed educational materials. The gap between patients' reading levels and the readability of diet education materials has not been closed in the past 20 years. This article details a strategy for developing effective printed educational materials that was used to develop and revise dietetic materials for patients at a university medical center. The process includes the use of a computerized readability software program to assess reading levels. Three major steps are to (a) analyze patient education needs, (b) develop the instructional plan and materials, and (c) evaluate the materials. Examples are given of the application of the readability program in the development of one diet booklet and in the simplification of four other booklets. Without the readability formulas, the reading level of the materials would have remained above the stated educational levels of the target population, and the objectives of the booklets would not have been achieved. Cautions against overreliance on the readability formulas without other assessment steps are given. A systematic approach including readability assessment is needed to ensure the effectiveness of dietetic educational materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1290-1292+1295
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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