Readability of Standard Appointment Letters

Daniel Mark Bennett, Anne Carol Gilchrist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction and aims: The first contact a clinical service has with a patient is often an appointment letter and thus it is important that this letter is written in a way which is accessible. One concern is to write in language which is easily able to be read by the majority of recipients. A simple initial way to assess this is by using measures of readability of text.

Methods: We applied measures to examine the readability of appointment and administrative letters sent to young people by clinicians in the Young People's Department at the Royal Cornhill Hospital in Aberdeen.

Results: Many letters were unlikely to be understood by our youngest patients. We revised the letters to meet an agreed standard of readability, and agreed their routine use within the team. All letters were significantly improved on standard measures of readability and were preferred by patients.

Conclusions: The methods used are feasible, easily available and may be helpful to clinicians working in other specialties to improve the level of readability of written communication. This will help patients and families in their first contact with any clinical service.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-106
Number of pages6
JournalMental Health in Family Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • adolescent psychiatry
  • communication
  • letters
  • patient involvement
  • readability


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