Readability and reliability of online patient education materials about statins. American journal of preventive cardiology Ngo, S., Asirvatham, R., Baird, G. L., Sarraju, A., Maron, D. J., Rodriguez, F. 2023; 16: 100594


Statins are the cornerstone for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Patients often consult online patient education materials (OPEMs) to inform medical decision-making. We therefore aimed to assess the readability and reliability of OPEMs related to statins.A total of 17 statin-related terms were queried using an online search engine to identify the top 20 search results for each statin-related term. Each OPEM was then grouped into the following categories based on 2 independent reviewers: government OPEMs (national, state, or local government agencies); healthcare/nonprofit OPEMs (major health systems and nonprofit organizations with a specific cardiovascular health focus); industry/commercial OPEMs (pharmaceutical manufacturers and online pharmacies); lay press OPEMs (healthcare-oriented news organizations); and dictionary/encyclopedia OPEMs. Grade-level readability for each OPEM was calculated using 5 standard readability metrics and compared with AMA-recommended readability recommendations. Reliability of each OPEM was evaluated using the JAMA benchmark criteria for online health information and certification from Health on the Net (HONCode).A total of 340 websites were identified across the 17 statin search terms. There were 211 statin OPEMs after excluding non-OPEM results; 172 OPEMs had unique content. Statin OPEM readability exceeded the recommended 6th grade AMA reading level (average reading grade level of 10.9). The average JAMA benchmark criteria score was 2.13 (on a scale of 0-4, with higher scores indicating higher reliability), and only 60% of statin OPEMs were HONCode-certified. There was an inverse association between readability and reliability. The most readable results were from industry and commercial sources, while the most reliable sites were from lay press sources.Statin OPEMs are written at an overall averaging reading grade level of 10.9. There was an inverse association between readability and reliability. Lack of accessible, high-quality online health information may contribute to statin nonadherence.

View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ajpc.2023.100594

View details for PubMedID 37822580

View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10562660