A readability analysis of online mental health resources
Date of Original Version
Analyzing the reading grade level of online mental health information is an important first step in ensuring that information is largely accessible by the general public, so as not to perpetuate existing health disparities across socioeconomic groups. The present study systematically examined grade-level readability of mental health information related to various psychiatric diagnoses, obtained from 6 highly utilized mental health websites, using a generalized estimating equations approach. Results suggest that, in general, the readability of mental health information is largely well above the 6th-to-8th grade level recommended by several national health organizations, including the CDC and NIH (Kutner, Greenberg, Jin, & Paulsen, 2006; National Institutes of Health, 2001, 2017), with reading-grade-level estimates from the model ranging from 5.62 to 17.9. Further efforts are required to ensure that writers of online health information do not exacerbate existing health disparities by ignoring these guidelines.
Skierkowski, Dorothy D., Paul Florin, Lisa L. Harlow, Jason Machan, and Yinjiao Ye. "A readability analysis of online mental health resources." American Psychologist 74, 4 (2019): 474-483. doi:10.1037/amp0000324.