Readability Level of English and Spanish Orthopaedic Patient Education Materials English and Spanish Patient Education


There are 16 million Hispanic people in the United States who rely on Spanish as their only effective method of communication. However, there is a scarcity of literature evaluating if patient education resources in Spanish meet the average American reading level or National Institute of Health (NIH) and American Medical Association (AMA) grade-level recommendations, especially in the field of orthopaedics. Representative orthopaedic search terms were input into Google and ten articles pertaining to patient education were selected. Videos, scientific journals, and surgical technique guides were excluded. Articles were then digitally analyzed and compared. Mean United States grade level equivalent was 11.26 ± 2.23 for English articles and 10.55 ± 1.45 for Spanish articles. English orthopaedic materials featured a significantly more difficult grade level (p < 0.01) than equivalent Spanish works. Spanish orthopaedic materials generated in the United States featured significantly lower (p < 0.01) readability scores than those written outside the United States. Our study demonstrated both English and Spanish materials were written at a high school level. Spanish materials were written at more appropriate grade-levels than their English counterparts. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 30(2):096–100, 2021)

Key word: patient education, orthopaedics, racial and ethnic disparities, patient outcome

Michael J. Patetta, MD; Kristina M. Pond, BS; Elizabeth M. Tennant, MD; Anshum Sood, MD; and Mark H. Gonzalez, MD, PhD