Background - This study aimed to evaluate the readability of consent forms for blood transfusion in public hospitals in Spain.
Materials and methods - This was a cross-sectional, national study conducted within the Spanish healthcare system. Data were collected through the online retrieval of consent documents and direct consultation with 223 public hospitals. Consent forms were subjected to readability assessment including typographical, grammatical and lexical dimensions. The INFLESZ scale, a well-validated instrument adapted to the reading habits of Spaniards, was applied to determine the grammatical readability of the documents. The Spanish Mosby’s Dictionary and the Dictionary of Spanish were used together to systematically identify the number of medical terms contained in the text. Data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics.
Results - Forty-five written consent forms for blood transfusion, in use in 126 general public hospitals were evaluated for various parameters, including font size (?=10.41), abbreviations (?=10.58), word count (?=595, 209 min-1,499 max) and length (1 to 7 pages). The overall readability score (?=50.66) was indicative that consent forms are somewhat difficult to read. A heterogeneity of 116 different healthcare terminology words was identified. Word count was statistically and moderately positively related to the number of medical terms identified in the text (rho=0.496, p=0.001) and the INFLESZ score (rho=0.34, p=0.023).
Discussion - In this first national study to assess the ease of reading written information on blood transfusion given to patients, deficiencies were found in the three dimensions of readability (typographical, grammatical and lexical) and a lack of uniformity among the written consent forms is pronounced. Further research is needed to develop more person-centered tools to support patients in the process of consenting for blood transfusion.
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