Hearing Aid Patient Education Materials: Is There Room for Improvement?
06 August 2020 (online)
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to analyze and compare the readability of patient education materials (PEMs) from leading manufacturers of behind-the-ear style hearing aids and popular hearing aid information Web sites to determine if they meet guidelines recommended by public health agencies.
Research Design: Analysis of hearing aid PEMs.
Methods: Printed user guides from six of the leading manufacturers of BTE hearing aids and 15 of the most popular hearing aid–information Web sites were accessed online and analyzed for readability using the Gunning-Fog Index, New Fog Count, Raygor Estimate Graph, Simple Measure of Gobbledygook, and Flesch Reading Ease score.
Results: Overall average grade–level readability for all six printed manufacturer user manuals was calculated to be written at a 10th grade reading level. Overall average grade-level readabilities for all 15 popular online hearing aid–information Web sites representing professional organizations, suppliers, and health information services were calculated to be written at 10th, 10th, and 11th grade reading levels, respectively. Average Flesch Reading Ease scores for all printed guides and online patient information Web sites were calculated to fall within the fairly difficult category for readability.
Conclusions: PEMs provided by top hearing aid manufactures and popular hearing aid Web sites are written well above the reading level recommended by the National Institutes of Health. Consideration should be given toward simplifying these materials in order to enhance user experience and increase compliance among behind-the-ear hearing aid users.