The internet is an important source of mental health information. Given variable literacy levels in the general public, patient information websites need to be easily readable to prevent misunderstanding and consequent misinformation about mental health problems being propagated. the aim was to ascertain the readability of websites containing patient information about schizophrenia. Twenty websites containing patient information about schizophrenia generated by Google® were analysed for Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.
According to standardised Flesch Reading Ease classification, 40% of the selected sites were classified as very difficult, 55% as difficult and 5% as fairly difficult. None were considered easy to read. There was a negative correlation of 70.798 (P < 0.001) between Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, which demonstrates the reliability of these results.
Easily accessed schizophrenia information websites do not score highly for readability. Those that produce websites should bear readability in mind when writing them in order to construct more readable sites. Ideally, these should be accredited by recognised organisations that evaluate readability. Clinicians should assess website information for readability before recommending them to patients or carers.
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