Text characteristics of clinical reports and their implications for the readability of personal health records.


Journal Article

Through personal health record applications (PHR), consumers are gaining access to their electronic health records (EHR). A new challenge is to make the content of these records comprehensible to consumers. To address this challenge, we analyzed the text unit length, syntactic and semantic characteristics of three sets of health texts: clinical reports from EHR, known difficult materials and easy-to-read materials. Our findings suggest that EHR texts are more different from easy texts and more similar to difficult texts in terms of syntactic and semantic characteristics, and EHR texts are more similar to easy texts and different from difficult texts in regard to text unit length features. Since commonly used readability formulas focus more on text unit length characteristics, this study points to the need to tackle syntactic and semantic issues in the effort to measure and improve PHR readability.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Zeng-Treitler, Q; Kim, H; Goryachev, S; Keselman, A; Slaughter, L; Smith, CA

Published Date

  • January 1, 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 129 / Pt 2

Start / End Page

  • 1117 - 1121

PubMed ID

  • 17911889

Pubmed Central ID

  • 17911889

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-8365

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0926-9630


  • eng