Screen all patients for their literacy level

  • The REALM: Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine is a 1-2 minute screening exam designed to measure recognition and comprehension of medical terminology.
  • Ask the patient how comfortable they are filling out medical forms by themselves.

Assess reading level of materials you distribute

  • The Suitability Assessment of Materials and the Medicaid Checklist are readability formulas that evaluate educational materials for how well they are understood, and how well they stimulate learning.
  • Fleisch-Kincaid Grade Level Formula counts the number of syllables in each word and the number of words in each sentence.
  • The SMOG (Simple Measure of Gobbledygook) index evaluates material based on average sentence length and counts words that have three or more syllables in 30 sentences.


Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc. Available at:

Rajda, C., George, N. (2009). The Effect of Education and Literacy Levels on Health Outcomes of the Elderly. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 5(2), 115-119.

Wallace, LS., Rogers, ES., Roskos, SE., Holiday, DB, Weiss, BD. Screening items to identify patients with limited health literacy skills. J Gen Intern Med. 2006; 21:874-877.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+WordPressBookmark/FavoritesBlogger PostShare