Category: Professional Posters
Purpose: Health literacy refers to the degree at which patients are able to obtain and comprehend health information to make informed decisions about their care. To address the dynamic needs of patients and to provide guidance for hospitals, the Joint Commission released a report titled, “Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care: A Roadmap for Hospitals.” This report recommends that patient education materials be written at or below a fifth grade reading level. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the compliance of commonly used tertiary drug references to the Joint Commission standard.
Methods: This comparative drug information study generated a list of 100 of the most commonly prescribed medications in 2019. Patient information handouts were obtained from Micromedex CareNotes, Micromedex Med Essential Fact Sheets, Lexi-Comp “the Basics,” www.drugs.com, and Medline plus. The reading level of each medication from each reference was evaluated using the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test, which is a mathematical test that incorporates sentence length and word length to approximate the reading level necessary for a reader to comprehend a given text. The primary endpoint was the average reading level in each database and was compared using a one-way ANOVA using correlated samples and Tukey’s post-hoc HSD test for significance between groups. The secondary endpoint was the frequency at which each database is at or below a fifth grade reading level.
Results: The overall average reading level was 7.8 ± 2.7, correlating to nearly an eighth grade reading level. The average reading levels for the 5 databases, in ascending order, included Lexi-comp at 4.2 ± 0.3, Micromedex CareNotes at 7.5 ± 0.8, Micromedex Med Essential Fact Sheets at 7.8 ± 3.7, www.drugs.com at 9.3 ± 1, and Medline Plus at 10.4 ± 0.7. Differences in databases were significant (p < 0.01) for all post-test comparisons except for the two Micromedex databases. Lexi-comp achieved a reading level at or below fifth grade in 99% of medications while Micromedex Med Essential Fact sheets was the next highest at 33%, a difference of 67%, p<0.0001. No other database contained drug information at or below a fifth grade level.
Conclusion: Lexi-comp “the Basics” consistently met the Joint Commission recommendation for medical information at or below a fifth grade reading level whereas Micromedex Med Essential Fact Sheets met this recommendation approximately a third of the time. When providing drug information resources to patients, healthcare providers should be diligent in selecting sources that meet the Joint Commission recommendations.