The Reading Level Of Government And Voluntary Health Organization Smoking Cessation Websites: A Descriptive Analysis

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Christopher Seitz PhD., Assistant Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: Background: The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (USDHHS) recommends that health material be written at or below a sixth-grade reading level to ensure readability. Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate the readability of online smoking cessation materials from several government and voluntary health organizations. Methods: A purposive sample of publicly accessible governmental and voluntary health organization websites was selected. The readability of the websites’ smoking cessation information was estimated using the previously validated SMOG readability formula, which determined reading level by correlating the number of polysyllabic words. Results: Of the 55 websites included in the analysis, none had cessation information at the USDHHS’s recommended reading level. The material ranged in reading level from seventh grade to a third year in college. Discussion: The findings indicate that the online cessation materials need to be modified in order to reach recommended reading levels. Translation to Health Education Practice: This study can be of practical use to Health Educators when designing, modifying, and evaluating smoking cessation materials. Several free, online government resources are available to assist Health Educators in using simple, non-polysyllable words to ensure that smoking cessation materials are written at the recommended reading levels.

Additional Information

Christopher M. Seitz, Samantha Shiplo, Taylor Filippini, Zubair Kabir, Jeffrey L. Lennon & Donald Fowler (2017). The Reading Level of Government and Voluntary Health Organization Smoking Cessation Websites: A Descriptive Analysis, American Journal of Health Education, 48:6, 392-399, DOI:10.1080/19325037.2017.1358122. Publisher version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2017
smoking, public health issues, secondhand smoke, Reading level, smoking cessation, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (USDHHS)

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