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An Assessment of the Readability of Recommended Popular Consumer Health Titles: Implications for Collection Development

by Hurst, Emily

Abstract (Summary)
This study aims at measuring the readability level of selected recommended consumer health books. National literacy studies suggest that about half of the United States population has low functional literacy levels. Health literacy is a specialized aspect of literacy and is often complicated by technical language and barriers including psychological stress. Books for analysis were selected from Library Journal’s “Best Consumer Health Books of 2006” list. The readability of text was tested using the Simple Measure Of Gobbledygook (SMOG) and Flesch-Kincaid (FK) formulas. Results found that no books tested below a SMOG grade level of ten, the average FK grade was also ten. The results correspond to high school level readability--higher than the average consumer’s estimated reading level. The findings suggest that even recommended consumer health books are written at a level that is beyond the reading comprehension of about half of the population. Impacts on collection development are discussed.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Claudia Gollop

School:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Location:USA - North Carolina

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:library schools – theses university of north carolina at chapel hill public libraries collection development united states special collections medicine popular information services communication barriers

ISBN:

Date of Publication:04/07/2008

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