Writing Content for Low Health Literacy, by Emily Broderick
Health literacy: the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services in order to make appropriate health decisions.”
The top 3 health searches:
- pregnancy symptoms
- flu symptoms
- diabetes symptoms
More than 35% of people go online to self-diagnose their symptoms (as of 2013). So we need to make sure they can understand and act on what they find.
Health information is difficult to take on.
- Even well educated people struggle with health information
- Health information consumed in a stressful situation is unlikely to stick
- Low literacy is linked to poor health outcomes and higher healthcare costs
What We Know About People with Low Health Literacy
People with low health literacy:
- May read slowly
- Reread content
- Some plow through content
- Some start reading in the middle
- More likely to access on mobile
How to Write in Plain Language
- AHA Media has a 10 step checklist called “Creating Valuable Content.”
- They also use the inverted pyramid for news writing. Assume people might stop reading at any time.
- Use a spellcheck/passive voice check tool like Grammerly
- Be positive
- Use short chunks and bulleted lists
- Define medical terms
- Include calls to action (no dead ends!!)
But the most important thing? Empathy.