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Tell Others About Health Literacy

You are a health literacy ambassador. It is up to you to make sure your colleagues, staff, leadership, and community are aware of the issues. Whether to review for yourself, present to others, or convince your leadership, the following resources may help you talk about health literacy.

Five Talking Points on Health Literacy: These brief talking points may be helpful if you need to tell someone quickly what health literacy is and why it is important. Add in talking points relevant to your organization.

  1. Nine out of 10 adults struggles to understand and use health information when it is unfamiliar, complex or jargon-filled.
  2. Limited health literacy costs the healthcare system money and results in higher than necessary morbidity and mortality.
  3. Health literacy can be improved if we practice clear communication strategies and techniques.
  4. Clear communication means using familiar concepts, words, numbers and images presented in ways that make sense to the people who need the information.
  5. Testing information with the audience before it is released and asking for feedback are the best ways to know if we are communicating clearly. We need to test and ask for feedback every time information is released to the general public.

Ten Tips for Clear Communication: These ten tips are the highlights of CDC's Simply Put and ODPHP's Health Literacy Online guide. Use the tips to help your staff and managers understand what to do to improve communication with the public.

  1. Make message clear with focused, action-oriented, motivational language
  2. Use design elements to enhance understandability
  3. Let visuals help tell the story
  4. Include cultural elements as appropriate
  5. Translate using the same clear communication principles
  6. Use all relevant information available to know your audience
  7. Express numerical information in concrete terms, e.g. One in five people instead of 20% of the population
  8. Choose the appropriate format for the audience or use multiple formats when information is novel, complex, unfamiliar or needed in different settings
  9. Consider navigation and technological familiarity when using digital media
  10. Test and evaluate with intended audience

Please send ideas for additional resources to

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  • Page last reviewed: April 11, 2011
  • Page last updated: April 11, 2011 The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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