Intended for healthcare professionals

Reading, Writing, And Revalidation

Readability of British and American medical prose at the start of the 21st century

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 21 December 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1451
  1. William B Weeks, associate professor (,
  2. Amy E Wallace, assistant professorb
  1. a Departments of Psychiatry and of Community and Family Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH, USA,
  2. b Department of Psychiatry, Dartmouth Medical School
  1. Correspondence to: W B Weeks

    Articles published in the BMJ and JAMA are available on the internet, albeit for a fee in the case of JAMA. We wanted to determine whether the materials published by these two pre-eminent journals, while physically accessible to a broad population, are likely to be comprehensible to them.

    Methods and results

    We obtained electronic versions of articles from the BMJ and JAMA published in the first six months of 2001. We limited our analysis to articles that were published as “Papers” in the BMJ or “Original Papers” in JAMA, had structured abstracts, and had first authors with either British or US institutional affiliations. The BMJ published 42 such articles and JAMA 68.

    For each article, we noted the national affiliation of the first listed author. We used Readability Calculations software from Micro Power and …

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