Frequently Asked Questions

Why was the Index developed?

The Index was developed to:

  1. Identify the most important communication characteristics that enhance clarity and aid understanding of public messages and materials
  2. Provide a research-based tool for staff to develop and assess communication products for CDC’s audiences, no matter the format or distribution channel

Who should use the Index?

We designed the Index for:

  • CDC staff who write, edit, design, and review communication products for the public
  • Contractors who produce materials for CDC

Anyone who develops public health communication materials can use the Index.

Screenshot of the Widget
Try the Index Widget

How does the Index work?

The Index contains 20 items, each with a numerical score of zero or one. The individual scores are converted to an overall score on a scale of 100. Although 100 is an ideal score, 90 or higher is passing.

The Index assesses materials in these 7 areas:

  1. Main Message and Call to Action
  2. Use of Plain Language
  3. Information Design
  4. State of the Science
  5. Behavioral Recommendations
  6. Numbers
  7. Risk

How long does it take to use the Index?

It takes about 15 minutes to score material once you are familiar with the scoring process.

Is the Index only for print consumer and patient materials?

No, you can also use the Index for materials for professional audiences, such as clinicians, health department staff, or policymakers. The items in Part A work well for materials for these primary audiences. You can use the modified score sheet for social media messages, scripts for podcasts and call center responses, and infographics that tell a story.