Date of Award

Spring 5-1989

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Community & Environmental Health


Community Health Education

Committee Director

Gregory H. Frazer

Committee Member

Colin E. Box

Committee Member

Gregory Maihafer

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.C48M33


The purpose of this study was to examine printed educational materials on five specific genetic disabilities and evaluate them for appropriateness of reading level and for inclusion of several specific issues related to the adequacy of the literature. Publicly available literature was analyzed using the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Formula and content analysis to estimate readability and to test for the presence of a definition of the disorder, a description of the basic genetics of the disorder and its symptomology, references to support groups and references for further information.

The data indicate that a definition of the disorder was included in 85% of the literature, 60% included a description of its basic genetics, and 77% included symptomology. No available support groups were referenced in 57% of the literature. References for further information were more common: One reference was found in 51% of the literature and only 23% showed no references. Health care agencies wrote 69% of the literature studied and 63% was written at the high school level (grades 9 through 12). Readability was assessed at the 8th grade level or lower in 20% of the literature while 17% was written above the high school level.

The results of the study indicate that much of the literature is not updated. The recent identification of the chromosome for Cystic Fibrosis was only reflected in one piece of literature. Also, the material studied is written at high comprehension levels. The average American reads at the fifth-grade level, yet the mean readability score on this genetic counseling literature was 10. 37. A third area of interest is the number of support groups referenced. over half of the literature did not mention any at all. Genetic counseling literature exists to inform people and answer questions, yet the information contained therein is not current, complete or easily understandable.


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