Two decades of research indicate that much health information is presented in ways that are not understandable by most Americans. If health professionals want to reach people with information, they must make sure information, products, and services are accessible and understandable to their intended audiences.
The resources in this section can help you develop a wide-array of health information.
- Use the tools and resources on Older Adults Communication to help you improve your communication with older adults and address health literacy barriers.
- Use the Guidance and Standards resources, Plain Language resources, the tools and resources on Visual Communication and Testing Messages and Materials to ensure your health information is accurate, accessible and actionable.
Health information should be:
- Accurate: Using health literacy best practices does not mean "dumbing-down" the information or distorting the science. Health literacy practices ensure that the information is presented accurately AND in ways that people can understand.
- Accessible: Just because you create health information doesn't mean people see it or can use it. Where and how you present your information affects its accessibility. Key aspects to consider:
- Is the information where people can see it?
- How will people who aren't actively looking for your information be exposed to it?
- Do you have a main message statement?
- Have you made the information easy to skim and scan with large font, sub-heads and bullets, and white space?
- Do the images match the text and have useful captions?
Even in the digital age, where posting information on the Web is easy and low-cost, the Web is not always the best way to reach "the general public." Multiple channels and formats are best, and it is your responsibility to ensure the information you created reaches the public in a useable format.
It is human nature to want to tell people all we know about something, but that doesn't necessarily help. In the health field, we typically want people to start or stop doing something, or do more or less of something.
However, we often spend our resources giving people background information instead of our recommendations. Some background information may be important, but make sure you provide actionable information so the people you want to reach CAN do something with the information provided.
- Page last reviewed: June 25, 2014
- Page last updated: June 25, 2014
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