This blog shares some of our thoughts about plain language, and the latest discussions about plain English and clear design in New Zealand, and around the world.

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19 June 2014

A conversation with you about health literacy

In my Conversations about health literacy with health providers, we talk about how they communicate health messages to their patients and clients.

I hear about the same challenges in every conversation:

  • how to use the language of health and medicine so that people can act on the message
  • how to reduce the complexity of everything. 

As we manage our lives, protect our health, and treat our illnesses, we all have to meet these challenges; understand the language and reduce the complexity, so that we can use the information. In a way, the language of health is a foreign language; you have to find out what the words mean so you can use them.

Develop a dual language to deliver your health messages
We recommend that health providers develop a dual language — a medical language to talk to their colleagues, and an everyday language to explain medical terms to their patients and clients.

Use a universal approach to health literacy
At Write we recommend a universal approach to communicating with a public audience or unknown readers. You can’t tell by looking who can read well or whether they understand.

People who work in health will recognise the value of a universal approach; they know the principles of infection control. They use ‘universal precautions’ because you can’t tell by looking who has an infection.

Our universal approach is to consistently apply plain language techniques when you give someone information. Using plain language techniques every time you write or talk gives readers and listeners a better chance of understanding and using the information for their benefit.

Learn more about reducing the complexity of everything in Helen Osborne’s regular Health Literacy Out Loud podcasts

And if you’d like to have a conversation about health literacy, please email me. Or we can do a coaching session or a workshop on delivering health information.

Contact us to talk about:

  • health literacy 
  • health information that people can read or hear, understand, and use
  • reducing the complexity of everything
  • applying plain language techniques to make your messages clear
  • developing a dual language for your profession.

1 comment:

  1. They use ‘universal precautions’ because you can’t tell by looking who has an infection. about health