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An Evaluation of the Literacy Demands of Online Natural Disaster Preparedness Materials for Families

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 August 2019

Marvin So*
Affiliation:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Atlanta, GA University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Medical School, Minneapolis, MN
Jessica L. Franks
Affiliation:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Atlanta, GA
Robyn A. Cree
Affiliation:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Atlanta, GA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Epidemic Intelligence Service, Atlanta, GA
Rebecca T. Leeb
Affiliation:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Atlanta, GA
*
Correspondence and reprint requests to Marvin So, University of Minnesota Medical School, 420 Delaware Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55454 (e-mail: so000012@umn.edu).

Abstract

Objective:

Natural disasters are becoming increasingly common, but it is unclear whether families can comprehend and use available resources to prepare for such emergencies. The objective of this study was to evaluate the literacy demands of risk communication materials on natural disasters for US families with children.

Methods:

In January 2018, we assessed 386 online self-directed learning resources related to emergency preparedness for natural disasters using 5 literacy assessment tools. Assessment scores were compared by information source, audience type, and disaster type.

Results:

One-in-three websites represented government institutions, and 3/4 were written for a general audience. Nearly 1-in-5 websites did not specify a disaster type. Assessment scores suggest a mismatch between the general population’s literacy levels and literacy demands of materials in the areas of readability, complexity, suitability, web usability, and overall audience appropriateness. Materials required more years of education beyond the grade level recommended by prominent health organizations. Resources for caregivers of children generally and children with special health care needs possessed lower literacy demands than materials overall, for most assessment tools.

Conclusions:

Risk communication and public health agencies could better align the literacy demands of emergency preparedness materials with the literacy capabilities of the general public.

Type
Original Research
Copyright
© 2019 Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc.

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