Readability of Patient Educational Materials for Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty


This study aimed to evaluate patient education materials that are focused on total hip arthroplasty (THA) and total knee arthroplasty (TKA) using health literacy best practices and plain language principles as frameworks. Readability assessments were conducted on a sample of nine patient education documents that are commonly given to THA and TKA surgery patients. Mean readability scores were compared across the sample. The mean readability grade level for the nine arthroplasty educational documents analyzed in this study was 11th grade (10.5). The mean readability ranged from 9th to 12th grade. The documents in this study were written at levels that exceed recommendations by health literacy experts. Health literacy best practices and plain language principles were suggested to reduce the demands on patients so that the documents are easier to understand. Incorporating health literacy best practices into patient education materials for THA and TKA can contribute to improved communication with patients that is necessary for patient understanding and satisfaction. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 27(1):72–76, 2018)
Key words: health literacy, hip arthroplasty, knee arthroplasty, patient education, readability

Asa W. Shnaekel, MD, MPH; Kristie B. Hadden, PhD; Tina D. Moore, EdD; Latrina Y. Prince, EdD; and C. Lowry Barnes, MD