Embrace: Unreliable Breast Cancer Educational Materials Are Difficult to Access

November 14, 2023

The American College of Surgeons (2023) reported on a barrier in accessing educational materials related to breast cancer surgery. At the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress, studies showed that “reliable educational materials about breast surgery are not only difficult to assess but are also presented at much higher reading levels than recommended.” (2023) Emily Palmquist, MD and co-author of the study, described that patients will turn to educational materials online and in doctor’s offices to learn more about breast surgery options. Palmquist (2023) and her team used various assessment tools to determine the reading level of educational material on the National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. Their findings stated, “the average readability score of these materials…was 11.6 across five scales, which is higher than National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommendations and also above national literacy levels in the U.S.” (2023) The research team highlighted that educational materials are not meeting the needs of patients and can present patients with more questions or concerns following appointments.

Researchers from Crozer-Chester Medical Center examined similar resources but also evaluated for the following:

  • Readability
  • Bias
  • Quality
  • Tone (2023).

Resources related to breast cancer surgeries were searched on popular platforms and further evaluated. The findings identified that “most website content exceeded the recommended sixth-grade reading level…and had information deemed either of fair or poor quality, with websites on breast cancer surgery scoring below average for quality evaluation.” (American College of Surgeons, 2023). Further, researchers stated that language used in resources were in a negative tone and stigmatizing. Both research studies reflected similar findings that breast cancer surgery online resources are not accessible for patients due to readability and tone of the language.

To access the full article, click here.


American College of Surgeons. (2023, October 20). Reliable patient education materials on breast cancer are difficult to access, research finds. Retrieved from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2023-10-reliable-patient-materials-breast-cancer.html



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