Readability of online sources of information regarding epilepsy surgery and its impact on decision-making processes

Caitlin O'Callaghan, Peter Rogan, Francesco Brigo, Joan Rahilly, Michael Kinney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


People with epilepsy can have cognitive deficits, including difficulty with reading tasks. This can potentially impact on how written information is understood. Websites increasingly provide information about different medical interventions including epilepsy surgery. Our aim was to assess the readability of a sample of one hundred patient-oriented educational English language websites related to epilepsy surgery.

A Google search was carried out using the terms epilepsy and surgery, and a sample of forty-nine websites from both the UK and the US were chosen. These websites were uploaded to a freely available online readability scoring tool ( and seven measures of readability generated were examined. Other data including use of figures/diagrams, patient narratives, and mention of the risks/benefits of surgery were noted.

The majority of the websites analyzed in this study were found to be ‘difficult’ to read for the average reading level of the population (n = 1-impossible, 10-very difficult, 23-difficult, 14 fairly difficult). Only 1 website was considered suitable for average reading level. The use of infographics was variable – some webpages used them extensively to reiterate the textual information and other websites did not.

Discussion and conclusion
The available online patient information literature is likely to be too difficult for the average reader to understand. It is important that websites are accessible, reliable, and aid understanding related to epilepsy surgery, taking potential cognitive deficits into consideration.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108033
Number of pages5
JournalEpilepsy & behavior : E&B
Issue numberPart A
Early online date21 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


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