Set in place material review process

Field test for readability, understanding

To ensure that educational materials are easy for patients to understand, put in place an approval process, advisesHelen Osborne, MEd, OTR/L, director of health education at Carney Hospital in Boston.

At Carney, staff who are writing new educational materials are asked to submit the materials to Osborne, who distributes them to key people for content and readability review. To make sure that written materials are easy to understand, they are field-tested. At Carney, Osborne uses the on-site employee classes that teach English as a second language and high school equivalency curriculum as one way to routinely field test materials. The teachers give the materials and a short survey to the students for feedback.

The field test questions are adopted from a book Literacy, Health, and the Law, published by the Health Promotion Council in Philadelphia. The sample questions cover five areas: attractiveness, understandability, personal relevance, acceptability, and overall impression. (For information on where to purchase a copy of Literacy, Health, and the Law see source box, p. 19.)

"We use these questions as a guideline and pick and choose what is relevant to the material when creating the survey," says Osborne.