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T-Space at The University of Toronto Libraries >
Journal of Medical Internet Research >
Volume 9 (2007) >

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/9821

Title: Assessing Consumer Health Vocabulary Familiarity: An Exploratory Study
Authors: Keselman, Alla
Tse, Tony
Crowell, Jon
Browne, Allen
Ngo, Long
Zeng, Qing
Keywords: Original Paper
Consumer health vocabulary
Consumer health informatics
Health education
Evaluation studies
Issue Date: 14-Mar-2007
Publisher: Gunther Eysenbach; Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, Toronto, Canada
Citation: Alla Keselman, Tony Tse, Jon Crowell, Allen Browne, Long Ngo, Qing Zeng. Assessing Consumer Health Vocabulary Familiarity: An Exploratory Study. J Med Internet Res 2007;9(1):e5 <URL: http://www.jmir.org/2007/1/e5/>
Abstract: [This item is a preserved copy and is not necessarily the most recent version. To view the current item, visit http://www.jmir.org/2007/1/e5/ ] Background: Accurate assessment of the difficulty of consumer health texts is a prerequisite for improving readability. General purpose readability formulas based primarily on word length are not well suited for the health domain, where short technical terms may be unfamiliar to consumers. To address this need, we previously developed a regression model for predicting “average familiarity” with consumer health vocabulary (CHV) terms. Objective: The primary goal was to evaluate the ability of the CHV term familiarity model to predict (1) surface-level familiarity of health-related terms and (2) understanding of the underlying meaning (concept familiarity) among actual consumers. Secondary goals involved exploring the effect of demographic factors (eg, health literacy) on surface-level and concept-level familiarity and describing the relationship between the two levels of familiarity. Methods: Survey instruments for assessing surface-level familiarity (45 items) and concept-level familiarity (15 items) were developed. All participants also completed a demographic survey and a standardized health literacy assessment, S-TOFHLA. Results: Based on surveys completed by 52 consumers, linear regression suggests that predicted CHV term familiarity is a statistically significantly predictor (P < .001) of participants’ surface-level and concept-level familiarity performance. Health literacy was a statistically significant predictor of surface-level familiarity scores (P < .001); its effect on concept-level familiarity scores warrants further investigation (P = 0.06). Educational level was not a significant predictor of either type of familiarity. Participant scores indicated that conceptualization lagged behind recognition, especially for terms predicted as “likely to be familiar” (P = .006). Conclusions: This exploratory study suggests that the CHV term familiarity model is predictive of consumer recognition and understanding of terms in the health domain. Potential uses of such a model include readability formulas tailored to the consumer health domain and tools to “translate” professional medical documents into text that is more accessible to consumers. The study also highlights the usefulness of distinguishing between surface-level term familiarity and deeper concept understanding and presents one method for assessing familiarity at each level.
Description: Reviewer: Slaughter, Laura
URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/jmir.9.1.e5
ISSN: 1438-8871
Rights: © Alla Keselman, Tony Tse, Jon Crowell, Allen Browne, Long Ngo, Qing Zeng. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org). Except where otherwise noted, articles published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, including full bibliographic details and the URL (see "please cite as" above), and this statement is included.
Appears in Collections:Volume 9 (2007)

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