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Readability and Suitability of State Newborn Screening Program Websites

Terrill, Rebecca P. (2024) Readability and Suitability of State Newborn Screening Program Websites. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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Newborn Screening (NBS) is a state-based public health program in the United States. It screens for congenital diseases that typically do not present with clinical symptoms at birth. States are in charge of running their own screening programs. Because states implement their NBS programs, they develop websites describing their program, accessible to the general public. With the increasing reliance on the internet for medical information and the low levels of health and genetic literacy in the population, the readability and suitability of state NBS program websites are critical to achieving understanding of NBS among the population. Assessment of these components of the sites is therefore essential.
This study utilized Microsoft Word,, and the CDC Clear Communication Index to assess the readability and suitability of state NBS program websites from all 50 states and Washington D.C. Scores were obtained for Flesch Reading Ease (FRE), Flesch Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL), and the Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG) from 51 general information pages and 28 parent-oriented information pages. The scores were compared to the recommended reading ease and grade level for public health materials. The CDC Clear Communication Index was also used to assess the suitability of the 28 parent-oriented pages and an average suitability score was obtained.
The average FRE scores from the general and parent-oriented information pages were 42.4 and 53.8, respectively. The general information pages had FKGL and SMOG grade level scores of 11.2 and 11.7, respectively. The parent-oriented information pages had FKGL and SMOG grade level scores of 9.2 and 10.6, respectively. The average final score from the suitability assessments was 44.5% with a maximum score of 76.5%.
Overall, most of the state NBS program websites, including both the general and parent-oriented information pages do not meet readability or suitability recommendations for materials aimed at the public. Relative improvements in readability scores were seen for the parent-oriented information pages compared to the general information pages. It is recommended that states should reevaluate the content of their websites, how that content is presented, and run the text through readability calculators to improve the readability and suitability of their websites.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Terrill, Rebecca P.rpt30@pitt.edurpt30
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDurst, Andrea L.adurst@pitt.eduadurstUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberWalsh Vockley, Catherinecatherine.walshvockley@chp.eduUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberBuchanich, Jeanine M.jeanine@pitt.edujeanineUNSPECIFIED
Date: 14 May 2024
Date Type: Completion
Number of Pages: 78
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Human Genetics
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Newborn Screening, Health Literacy, Genetic Literacy, Readability, Suitability
Date Deposited: 14 May 2024 18:13
Last Modified: 14 May 2024 18:13


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