Objective: Hirschsprung disease in newborns can be a potentially life-threatening condition, with risks for complications such as Hirschsprung-associated enterocolitis. Accessing health information in a readable format for complex diseases demonstrates an important outlet for families to address concerns. While it is important to seek out information from trusted providers, many individuals seek out ways to educate themselves further by using common search engines and turning to the internet. This article will evaluate the readability of relevant articles on Hirschsprung disease and information accessibility to the average health literacy individual.
Methods: A readability analysis of the first 20 Google search results from the keywords “Hirschsprung disease” and “aganglionic megacolon” was performed. Results were documented and averaged using standardized scoring systems. Scoring systems included an Automated Readability Index, Coleman Liau index, SMOG index, Gunning Fog score, Flesch Kinkaid grade level, Flesch Kinkaid reading ease, and average readability across all scoring systems. The number of sentences, number of words, number of complex words, percent of complex words, average words per sentence, and average syllables per word were included as a sample of criteria within scoring systems.
Results: The average readability score for the first 20 search results of keywords “Hirschsprung disease” and “aganglionic megacolon” was 9.4, indicating a reading level just above the ninth grade. Readability ease was scored separately due to its unique scoring system on a scale of 0-100. Flesch Kincaid Readability ease score was averaged and resulted in a score of 46.4, which is considered “college level” or “difficult.”
Conclusions: The average health consumer will turn to Google to find information about their own health, as well as the health of their loved ones. Hirschsprung disease in newborns presents a complex disease process and can be potentially life-threatening. Current resources available to the average health consumer averaged at a grade level of 9.4 relative to search results from keywords “Hirschsprung disease” and “aganglionic megacolon.” Depending on the target audience for online information, more work needs to be done to improve readability for the average health information consumer.
click-through rate, aganglionic megacolon, Hirschsprung Disease, online information, readability, health literacy
Baum AL, Nguyen A, Valentine MJ, Vollin L, McNab C, Kirila CE. Hirschsprung Disease: A Literacy Analysis of Patient Information. Cureus. 2023; 15(10). doi: 10.7759/cureus.46806.