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The Readability of Outpatient Plastic Surgery Clinic Letters: Are We Adhering to Plain English Writing Standards? / Damien J. Drury, Anjana Kaur, Thomas Dobbs, Iain Whitaker

Plastic Surgical Nursing, Volume: 41, Issue: 1, Pages: 27 - 33

Swansea University Authors: Thomas Dobbs, Iain Whitaker

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Abstract

The readability of letters sent to patients plays a pivotal role in facilitating joint decision making and positive health outcomes. Guidance suggests that all correspondence should be directed to patients. Covid-19 led to an increase in direct-to-patient communication. This study aims to determine...

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Published in: Plastic Surgical Nursing
ISSN: 0741-5206 1550-1841
Published: Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health) 2021
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa57061
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first_indexed 2021-06-08T13:06:28Z
last_indexed 2021-07-01T03:21:23Z
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spelling 2021-06-30T11:37:18.7485778 v2 57061 2021-06-08 The Readability of Outpatient Plastic Surgery Clinic Letters: Are We Adhering to Plain English Writing Standards? d18101ae0b4e72051f735ef68f45e1a8 Thomas Dobbs Thomas Dobbs true false 830074c59291938a55b480dcbee4697e Iain Whitaker Iain Whitaker true false 2021-06-08 PMSC The readability of letters sent to patients plays a pivotal role in facilitating joint decision making and positive health outcomes. Guidance suggests that all correspondence should be directed to patients. Covid-19 led to an increase in direct-to-patient communication. This study aims to determine the quantity and quality of plastic surgery clinic letters sent to patients before and during the Covid-19 pandemic. A total of 127 pre-Covid clinic letters from November to December 2019 and 103 peri-Covid clinic letters from April to May 2020 were identified and assessed for readability. Text was analyzed using a standardized set of commonly used readability formulae, including SMOG, Flesch Reading Ease, and the Coleman-Liao Index. A total of 100 pre-Covid and 58 peri-Covid letters were suitable for inclusion. Median results for formulae that output a U.S. grade score ranged between 9 and 12.9 for letters written prior to Covid-19 and 9 and 13.2 for those written during Covid-19. Eight percent of letters were sent to patients pre-Covid, increasing to 28% during the pandemic. Letters sent to patients had a median grade score of between 8 and 12 prior to Covid-19 and 8 and 10.6 during Covid-19. Letters sent to clinicians ranged between 9 and 13 and 9 and 13.3, respectively. Outpatient plastic surgery letters are written at a readability level too high to facilitate understanding among the general population. The increase in direct-to-patient contact during the Covid-19 outbreak has not led to a significant improvement in the readability of clinic letters. The authors suggest an increase in letter standardization and raising awareness of readability when writing clinic letters. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2021 International Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Nurses. All rights reserved.] Journal Article Plastic Surgical Nursing 41 1 27 33 Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health) 0741-5206 1550-1841 Plastic Surgery, Outpatient 1 1 2021 2021-01-01 10.1097/psn.0000000000000356 COLLEGE NANME Medicine COLLEGE CODE PMSC Swansea University 2021-06-30T11:37:18.7485778 2021-06-08T13:52:18.6373755 Swansea University Medical School Medicine Damien J. Drury 1 Anjana Kaur 2 Thomas Dobbs 3 Iain Whitaker 4
title The Readability of Outpatient Plastic Surgery Clinic Letters: Are We Adhering to Plain English Writing Standards?
spellingShingle The Readability of Outpatient Plastic Surgery Clinic Letters: Are We Adhering to Plain English Writing Standards?
Thomas, Dobbs
Iain, Whitaker
title_short The Readability of Outpatient Plastic Surgery Clinic Letters: Are We Adhering to Plain English Writing Standards?
title_full The Readability of Outpatient Plastic Surgery Clinic Letters: Are We Adhering to Plain English Writing Standards?
title_fullStr The Readability of Outpatient Plastic Surgery Clinic Letters: Are We Adhering to Plain English Writing Standards?
title_full_unstemmed The Readability of Outpatient Plastic Surgery Clinic Letters: Are We Adhering to Plain English Writing Standards?
title_sort The Readability of Outpatient Plastic Surgery Clinic Letters: Are We Adhering to Plain English Writing Standards?
author_id_str_mv d18101ae0b4e72051f735ef68f45e1a8
830074c59291938a55b480dcbee4697e
author_id_fullname_str_mv d18101ae0b4e72051f735ef68f45e1a8_***_Thomas, Dobbs
830074c59291938a55b480dcbee4697e_***_Iain, Whitaker
author Thomas, Dobbs
Iain, Whitaker
author2 Damien J. Drury
Anjana Kaur
Thomas Dobbs
Iain Whitaker
format Journal article
container_title Plastic Surgical Nursing
container_volume 41
container_issue 1
container_start_page 27
publishDate 2021
institution Swansea University
issn 0741-5206
1550-1841
doi_str_mv 10.1097/psn.0000000000000356
publisher Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health)
college_str Swansea University Medical School
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hierarchy_top_id swanseauniversitymedicalschool
hierarchy_top_title Swansea University Medical School
hierarchy_parent_id swanseauniversitymedicalschool
hierarchy_parent_title Swansea University Medical School
department_str Medicine{{{_:::_}}}Swansea University Medical School{{{_:::_}}}Medicine
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description The readability of letters sent to patients plays a pivotal role in facilitating joint decision making and positive health outcomes. Guidance suggests that all correspondence should be directed to patients. Covid-19 led to an increase in direct-to-patient communication. This study aims to determine the quantity and quality of plastic surgery clinic letters sent to patients before and during the Covid-19 pandemic. A total of 127 pre-Covid clinic letters from November to December 2019 and 103 peri-Covid clinic letters from April to May 2020 were identified and assessed for readability. Text was analyzed using a standardized set of commonly used readability formulae, including SMOG, Flesch Reading Ease, and the Coleman-Liao Index. A total of 100 pre-Covid and 58 peri-Covid letters were suitable for inclusion. Median results for formulae that output a U.S. grade score ranged between 9 and 12.9 for letters written prior to Covid-19 and 9 and 13.2 for those written during Covid-19. Eight percent of letters were sent to patients pre-Covid, increasing to 28% during the pandemic. Letters sent to patients had a median grade score of between 8 and 12 prior to Covid-19 and 8 and 10.6 during Covid-19. Letters sent to clinicians ranged between 9 and 13 and 9 and 13.3, respectively. Outpatient plastic surgery letters are written at a readability level too high to facilitate understanding among the general population. The increase in direct-to-patient contact during the Covid-19 outbreak has not led to a significant improvement in the readability of clinic letters. The authors suggest an increase in letter standardization and raising awareness of readability when writing clinic letters. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2021 International Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Nurses. All rights reserved.]
published_date 2021-01-01T04:13:59Z
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