Purpose/Objectives: To review the need for reading assessments for patients with cancer, review existing reading assessment tools, and make a case for a new tool specific to patients with cancer.
Data Sources: Published articles, experiences, and discussions with published authors in the field of literacy.
Data Synthesis: Valid and reliable tools that assess word recognition and comprehension exist for general use in health care. Word-recognition tests do not always predict comprehension, and a commonly used comprehension test has sections assessing only very low, second year of high school, and graduate-level skills.
Conclusions: A new tool, developed specifically for patients with cancer, may better capture reading ability and comprehension. It is being evaluated for use in a clinical setting.
Implications for Nursing: If nurses know their patients' reading levels, they can plan more effectively for teaching self-care and discussing decision making. Outcomes related to health and satisfaction may improve if poor readers are given materials they can understand.