OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study was to measure the readability and user-friendliness (clarity, complexity, organization, appearance, and cultural appropriateness of materials) of parent education brochures on newborn screening.
METHODS. We studied English-language versions of the brochures that state newborn screening programs prepare and distribute. We obtained brochures from 48 states and Puerto Rico. We evaluated each brochure for readability with the Flesch reading ease formula. User-friendliness of the brochures was assessed with an instrument we created that contained 22 specific criteria grouped into 5 categories, ie, layout, illustrations, message, manageable information, and cultural appropriateness.
RESULTS. Most current newborn screening brochures should be revised to make them more readable and user-friendly for parents. Ninety-two percent of brochures were written at a reading level that is higher than the average reading level of US adults (eighth-grade level). In most brochures, the essential information for parents was buried. Although all brochures were brief and focused on the newborn screening tests being performed, 81% needed improvement in getting to the point quickly and making it easy for parents to identify what they needed to know or to do. None of the brochures scored high in all 22 criteria on the user-friendliness checklist.
CONCLUSIONS. Parent education materials about newborn screening should be revised to be easier to read and more user-friendly, by lowering the reading difficulty to eighth-grade level and focusing on issues such as layout, illustrations, message, information, and cultural appropriateness. It is important that state newborn screening programs and organizations work with parents to develop and to evaluate materials to ensure that they are user-friendly.