The readability levels of cancer-prevention materials targeting African Americans. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Several studies have examined the readability levels of cancer-prevention materials, but the readability levels of materials targeting African Americans have not been documented. The Cancer Prevention Materials and African-Americans project, funded in 1994 by the Texas Cancer Council, was developed to assess the readability levels and cultural sensitivity of cancer-prevention materials targeting African Americans. METHODS: This study assessed the readability of 100 cancer-prevention materials using McLaughlin's SMOG grading. Illustrations and point sizes were also examined by research staff members. RESULTS: Seventy-two percent of the material contained illustrations and 88% were printed using a 12-point font. An overall mean SMOG grade of 9.32 was found, which suggests that ninth graders can read and comprehend the text. CONCLUSIONS: Although this grade level is lower than those indicated by previous studies, many of the printed materials may not be appropriate for African Americans at high risk for cancer: those with low incomes and little education. Health professionals should focus on decreasing the reading levels of print materials, pretesting audiences to determine their actual reading levels, and examining other factors that influence readability and comprehension.

author list (cited authors)

  • Guidry, J. J., & Fagan, P.

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Guidry, JJ||Fagan, P

publication date

  • January 1997