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Nitin Agarwal, Sumana S. Kommana, David R. Hansberry, Ahmed I. Kashkoush, Robert M. Friedlander and L. Dade Lunsford


Closing the knowledge gap that exists between patients and health care providers is essential and is facilitated by easy access to patient education materials. Although such information has the potential to be an effective resource, it must be written in a user-friendly and understandable manner, especially when such material pertains to specialized and highly technical fields such as neurological surgery. The authors evaluated the accessibility, usability, and reliability of current educational resources provided by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), Healthwise, and the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).


Online neurosurgical patient education information provided by AANS, Healthwise, and NINDS was evaluated using the LIDA scale, a website quality assessment tool, by medical professionals and nonmedical professionals. A high achieving score is regarded as 90% or greater using the LIDA scale.


Accessibility scores were 76.7% (AANS), 83.3% (Healthwise), and 75.0% (NINDS). Average usability scores for the AANS, Healthwise, and NINDS were 73.3%, 82.6%, and 82.9%, respectively, when evaluated by medical professionals and 78.5%, 80.7%, and 75.9%, respectively, for nonmedical professionals, respectively. Average reliability scores were 58.5%, 53.3%, 72.6%, respectively, for medical professionals and 70.4%, 66.7%, and 78.5%, respectively, for nonmedical professionals when evaluating the AANS, Healthwise, and NINDS websites.


Although organizations like AANS, Healthwise, and NINDS should be commended for their ongoing commitment to provide health care–oriented materials, modification of this material is suggested to improve the patient education value.

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Nitin Agarwal, Daniel P. Feghhi, Raghav Gupta, David R. Hansberry, John C. Quinn, Robert F. Heary and Ira M. Goldstein


The Internet has become a widespread source for disseminating health information to large numbers of people. Such is the case for spine surgery as well. Given the complexity of spinal surgeries, an important point to consider is whether these resources are easily read and understood by most Americans. The average national reading grade level has been estimated to be at about the 7th grade. In the present study the authors strove to assess the readability of open spine surgery resources and minimally invasive spine surgery resources to offer suggestions to help improve the readability of patient resources.


Online patient education resources were downloaded in 2013 from 50 resources representing either traditional open back surgery or minimally invasive spine surgery. Each resource was assessed using 10 scales from Readability Studio Professional Edition version 2012.1.


Patient education resources representing traditional open back surgery or minimally invasive spine surgery were all found to be written at a level well above the recommended 6th grade level. In general, minimally invasive spine surgery materials were written at a higher grade level.


The readability of patient education resources from spine surgery websites exceeds the average reading ability of an American adult. Revisions may be warranted to increase quality and patient comprehension of these resources to effectively reach a greater patient population.