Health messages tend to be about serious topics. But must these messages always be communicated in somber (some might say, boring) ways? I think not. Instead, you might consider adding a dose of creativity. Creativity is rooted in the philosophy that people have more capacity to learn when they are engaged and relaxed. It is often multimodal and therefore appealing to people’s varied learning styles of seeing, doing, listening, and interacting. A bonus is that creative health messages can effectively reach audiences of all ages, abilities, cultures, and levels of experience and education.
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of interviewing a number of people who creatively and effectively communicate about a wide range of health topics. Here are examples from my Health Literacy Out Loud (HLOL) podcast series:
- “Ethnodrama: Conveying Health Concepts in Culturally Relevant Ways (HLOL #140). Anita Woodley is an award-winning actress, playwright, producer, musician, poet, journalist, HIV counselor, and healthcare advocate. One powerful way she communicates is with ethnodramas—non-traditional theatrical performances used to educate, promote, and prevent harmful practices to overall health. In this podcast Anita not only gives examples of using characters, language, and laughter to teach about health but also shares suggestions about how to be both authentic and informative. Listen and access the transcript.
- “Comics and Medicine: That’s Health Literacy, Too (HLOL #110)” MK Czerwiec is a nurse who makes comics. In this podcast interview she explains how comics use sequential art to teach about health, illness, and medicine. She also shares how comics transcend differences in culture, language, and educational level. Listen and access the transcript.
- “Poetry and Other Artful Ways to Communicate Health Messages (HLOL #99)” Elspeth Murray is a Scottish poet. In this podcast she reads aloud her poem, “This is Bad Enough” about why health communication is hard and ways to make it easier. Elspeth also talks about using the arts to engage, entertain, and educate audiences. Listen and access the transcript.
More ways to learn:
- Helen Osborne has recorded more than 150 Health Literacy Out Loud (HLOL) podcast interviews, with new episodes coming out every few weeks. Subscribe for free to hear them all. A good place to start is at the HLOL website.
- Helen Osborne writes about creativity in her book, Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition. You can find this award-winning book at the Jones & Bartlett Learning website and most online bookstores, including Amazon.