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Readability of internet-based patient information for radiotherapy patients

  • David Flinton (a1), Manrita K. Singh (a2) and Krupesh Haria (a3)

Information is key to patient informed choice and the internet is currently a major source of health information for adults in the UK. In order for the users to make use of the information it must be presented in a way that the user can understand. This depends on a number of factors one being that the document is written at the right level to be understood by the reader, readability.


The aim of this study was to assess the readability of radiotherapy-related documents on the internet and compare their levels to published norms.


An internet search was undertaken using Google, to identify UK-based literature. Once identified documents were downloaded into Word and cleaned of punctuation other than that at the end of the sentence, documents were then analysed by the software package Readability Studio.

Results and conclusions

Documents tended to be written at too high a reading level, but the reading level had improved from a similar study conducted in 2006. The level of readability appears to show a relationship to the use of passive voice, which was very variable in the sample collected and reduction in the use of passive voice could help with the readability of the information.

Corresponding author
Correspondence to: David Flinton, Department of Radiography, Division of Midwifery and Radiography, City, University of London, London, UK. Tel: 0207 040 5688. Fax: 00442070405690. E-mail:
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Journal of Radiotherapy in Practice
  • ISSN: 1460-3969
  • EISSN: 1467-1131
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