Literacy analysis of National Comprehensive Cancer Network patient guidelines for the most common malignancies in the United States

Bao Ngoc N. Tran, Qing Z. Ruan, Sherise Epstein, Joseph A. Ricci, Rima E. Rudd, Bernard T. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Cancer information is of critical interest to the public. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) offers a series of comprehensive patient guidelines on the management of the most common cancer diagnoses. This study was aimed at assessing the health literacy demands of NCCN patient guidelines for the most common malignancies in the United States. METHODS: The American Cancer Society's most common malignancies by annual incidence in the United States and their corresponding NCCN patient guidelines were identified. Four validated tools were used to evaluate literacy levels: 1) the Simple Measure of Gobbledygook, 2) the Peter Mosenthal and Irwin Kirsch readability formula (PMOSE/IKIRSCH), 3) the Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT), and 4) the Clear Communication Index from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). RESULTS: The average reading grade level was 10.3, which was higher than the recommended 6th-grade level. The average PMOSE/IKIRSCH score was 11; this corresponded to moderate complexity and required some college-level education for interpretation. Only 1 tool, the PEMAT, yielded scores above the benchmarks for high-quality materials. The PEMAT's understandability, actionability, and overall scores were 94%, 83%, and 91%, respectively. The average CDC index was 85%, which was below the recommended 90% for an appropriate health literacy demand. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the assessment indicates high demand scores for the readability and complexity of the NCCN patient guidelines and thus that the materials are not quite suitable for the general US adult population. Further input from patient focus groups to address appropriateness and usefulness is critical. Cancer 2018;124:769-74.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)769-774
Number of pages6
JournalCancer
Volume124
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 15 2018

Keywords

  • cancer
  • health literacy
  • malignancy
  • patient guidelines
  • readability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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