Examining the online approaches used by hospitals in Sydney, Australia to inform patients about healthcare associated infections and infection prevention strategies

Mrs Ji Park1, Dr Holly Seale1

1University Of New South Wales, Randwick, Australia

Background: Provision of information plays a critical role in supporting patients to be engaged or empowered to be involved with infection prevention measures in hospitals. This explorative study evaluated the suitability, readability and accessibility of information on healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) and infection prevention strategies targeted at patients from the websites of 19 acute care public hospitals in Sydney, Australia.

Methods: We included hospitals with greater than 200 beds in the sample. We examined online information targeted at patients on HCAIs and infection prevention and compared it using the Suitability Assessment of Material (SAM) and Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG) readability formulas for suitability, readability and accessibility.

Results: Thirty-six webpages were identified as being relevant and containing information about HCAIs or infection prevention. Only three webpages were found to be ‘superior’.  Many of the webpages scored poorly in content, literacy, graphics, learning stimulation and cultural appropriateness. The majority (97%) of the materials were written at a level higher than the recommended reading grade level. Lastly, the websites scored poorly on the ability to locate the information easily, as messages about HCAIs/infection prevention were usually embedded into other topics.

Conclusion: While providing information online is only one approach to delivering messages about infection prevention, it is becoming increasingly important in today’s technology society. Hospitals are neglecting to use best practices when designing their online resources and current websites are difficult to navigate. The findings point to the need to review patient information on HCAIs regarding suitability, readability and accessibility.


Holly leads a program of research that is focused on the sociological aspects of infectious diseases and infection prevention. Specifically, her research encompasses the individual, societal and organisational factors that influence compliance with infection prevention strategies that ultimately are employed to develop approaches/interventions to improve uptake. Her research spans pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical prevention strategies, includes qualitative and quantitative research approaches and consumers such as hospital/community healthcare workers, special at-risk groups (people with underlying illness, migrants/refugees), students and the general public.

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