Mammography info on hospital websites needs to be simplified

Few hospitals are providing information on mammography for patients at the recommended reading level or with references to professional guidelines, according to a study published in the journal AJR.

The study, led by Gelareh Sadigh, MD, a radiology resident at Emory University in Atlanta, was meant to assess the readability of mammography information for patients provided by hospitals on their websites. Little over half (54 percent) of the 4,105 Medicare-recognized hospitals offered that information, and only 14 hospitals (0.4 percent) of those presented it at the seventh-grade reading level recommended by the American Medical Association and the National Institutes of Health.

“Overall nationally, the mean readability score ranged between the 10th and 14th grade levels—far above the expected reading comprehension level of average American patients,” Sadigh and his coauthors wrote.

Far more hospitals (46 percent) had no online material on mammography.

The study also found only 28 percent of hospitals referenced specific information about professional society guidelines on their websites, which could help patients make more informed choices “in an era of rapidly changing and conflicting professional society recommendations about when screening mammography is appropriate,” according to Sadigh and his coauthors.

The study argued most hospital websites, without providing understandable and clear mammography information online, are failing to meet patient needs.