Available Until 7/28/2027

Beyond Readability Formulas: Writing Clear and Effective Patient-Centered Educational Materials


For more information or to schedule this course, please contact  Ruti Volk <rvolk@umich.edu>.

This face-to-face course will explain in-depth the principles of creating patient education materials and consent forms in plain language. Through the use of real-life examples participants will master language and formatting guidelines that meet the needs of people with all levels of health literacy. Upon completion of this course participants will be able to identify hard-to-understand grammatical elements and employ strategies to increase understandability and actionability of written text including risks and benefits information. Participants will be able to identify hard-to-understand formatting and graphical elements and utilize design elements that promote understanding. Participants will be able to effectively use readability formulas and testing tools and utilize the AHRQ PEMAT-P instrument to assess the quality of patient education materials. Teaching methods will include presentation, videos, case studies and critiquing exercises. This class will prepare participants to create similar training programs in their own institutions.

Learning Objectives

Following completion of the course, participants will have the knowledge needed to develop easy-to-read patient-education materials and consent forms suitable for patients and families with low health literacy.

Critical Behaviors

A. Participants will master the six principles of plain language

B. Participants will identify and convert topic headings into question headings

C. Participants will identify and convert passive voice sentences into active voice

D. Participants will employ strategies for making medical terms and hard-to-read words understandable to readers with low literacy.

E. Participants will identify hard-to-read formatting and graphical elements

F. Participants will utilize design elements that improve understanding of written text

G. Participants will be able to identify which long narrative sentences should be converted to bulleted lists, and how to write easy-to-understand bulleted lists

H. Participants will utilize easy-to-understand strategies to communicate risks and benefits

I. Participants will use the PEMAT-P instrument and the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Tool to assess and improve materials


1.	Introduction: Health literacy as a major factor impacting the health of Americans and how the use of plain language can mitigate the 
negative effects of low health literacy (presentation and videos) - 30 minutes
2. The Six principles of Plain Language (presentation illustrated with examples) – 50 minutes
3. Proper use of readability tests (presentation and demonstration) 10 minutes
4. Communicating risks and benefits for informed consents (presentation) 15 minutes
5. Case studies: (discussion and brain storming) 30 minutes
6. PEMAT-P the AHRQ instrument to assess the quality of patient education materials – (presentation, demonstration and hands-on exercise.) – 30 minutes
7. Hands on exercise: critique and improve a patient education handout. Report back to the group - 60 minutes
8. Conclusion – summary and review - 15 minutes

Facility Requirements

Facility should resemble a classroom with desks/tables,a projector and a large screen to display slides and videos.

MLA CE Credits: 4