Fluoride Action Network

An assessment of the readability of online material related to fluoride.

Source: Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community | Jan-Mar;47(1):5-13. | February 28th, 2019 | Authors: Basch CH, Ethan D, Cadorett V, Kollia B, Clark A.


Community water fluoridation has been deemed one of the greatest public health achievements, yet it remains a controversial topic. As those who are concerned about the benefits and safety of community water fluoridation are likely to turn to the Internet to find information, it is important to know the ease with which a person can read popular materials online. The aim of this study was to assess the readability levels of pro- and anti-fluoride articles on the Internet. Using a highly-recommended readability site, the first 100 articles garnered from websites in a Google were analyzed for a multitude of scores on popular readability tests. Of the 100 articles analyzed, 71 were deemed to be pro-fluoride, and 29 were anti-fluoride. Anti-fluoride materials were more readable across all scores when compared to the pro-fluoride materials. It is critical for consumers to be aware of the credibility of the health information they are reading and to be educated on how to determine if a website or source is reliable, especially when information is conflicting. It is also critical that health associations and other websites devoted to public health promotion develop and provide more accessible health information in terms of readability.

*Original abstract online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30806197