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The reading man's condom.

The reading man's condom

A study of the readability of instructions accompanying 25 brands of condoms sold in the United States reveals they all require at least a tenth-grade education, and most brands require some college-level reading ability for full comprehension of their instructions. Applying three standard readability formulas to 14 different sets of instructions, Gary A. Richwald and his colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, analyzed linguistic characteristics of the text, including word and sentence length and vocabulary difficulty, to calculate the probable difficulty.

Analyses of the condoms' instructions for use, handling and storage showed that at best, the reading skill of a college freshman would be necessary to comprehend two of the texts, and six others require the skill of a high school graduate. The "worst case" analsis -- of the highest scores for each set of instructions--indicated that all texts would require the reading skill of a high school graduate.

"Although little is known about the relationship between the condom user's comprehension of instructions for use and the condom's effectiveness in preventing pregnancy or disease, such a relationship seems reasonable," the scientists say. They further point out that young people as well as those who have failed to complete high school (13 percent of whites, 21 percent of blacks and 42 percent of Hispanics between the ages of 25 and 34) could encounter difficulty with existing texts. Their report appears in the July-August PUBLIC HEALTH REPORTS.
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Title Annotation:research on readibility of condoms' instructions for use
Publication:Science News
Date:Sep 17, 1988
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