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Why Website Content for Patients Should Be At 6th Grade Reading Level

As content writers our top priority when writing anything is to keep the reader in mind.

Studies show that the typical American adult reads at about a 7th or 8th grade level. When it comes to reading content on the Internet things get more tricky because the web poses particular challenges and opportunities regarding how information is read and understood.

That’s why it’s important for healthcare websites to publish content that is simple, likeable and user-friendly for patients. When your content is readable, your audience is able to understand and implement the information you share with them.

Poor Readability

But a recent study by JAMA Internal Medicine shows that a lot of patient educational content on the web suffers from a lack of readability because it is written at a very high reading level. Here’s what researchers suggest:

“Key healthcare groups such as the American Medical Association and the National Institutes of Health recommend that patient education materials should be written at a fourth to sixth grade reading level.”

Patient education content should be simple to read and understand

Patient education content should be simple to read and understand

If you’re a healthcare content writer try using these simple techniques to enhance the readability of your web content:

  • Keep sentences short and concise
  • Use time-saving and attention grabbing tips such as writing ‘1000’ instead of ‘one-thousand’
  • Use this Readability Tool to test how readable your website content is
  • Use bullet points, images, videos and other visual enhancements
  • Make sure images used support the content

The study concludes by saying that ‘website revisions may be warranted‘ to enhance the readability of patient content and that images and video may be a more effective way of increasing patient understanding than text alone. That’s what content marketers have been saying all along. Read full article here to learn more on this subject.

Your Turn:

What do you think? Is website content for patient audiences too difficult to understand?


  1. […] why healthcare brands have a responsibility to educate and empower consumers with accurate, readable content that will guide their health and wellness decisions. However patients won’t call your office […]

  2. […] consumers are currently disengaged reporting less need for care, preventative action, interest in patient education resources, and financial […]

  3. […] these materials are written beyond the recommended sixth-grade reading level, which hinders understanding, and consequently does not promote […]

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