Health Literacy Consulting How-To Tip
You work hard to make a health literacy difference. Whether implementing a new initiative or revising an on-going program, plan now how to later assess success. Doing so not only can help you focus more clearly but also will demonstrate a commitment to moving forward in an objective and sustainable way.
Here are some how-to suggestions:
- Identify specific goals at the start of each project. For instance, if you are writing a plain language fact sheet about cancer, your goal might be to clearly define all necessary, yet unfamiliar, medical words (such as “metastases.”) Or if you are creating a health program for the public, then a goal might be to have [x] number of representatives from local agencies on the planning committee.
- Review these goals from time to time. While working on this project, periodically look at these initial goals to make sure you are doing what was planned. But allow some flexibility. Here’s an example: When updating the fact sheet about cancer, perhaps you just learned that most readers have been living with cancer for several years. In that case, you might revise the initial list of unfamiliar words. The best way to know what’s best to do is by working closely with some intended readers.
- Re-measure effectiveness at the project’s end. Now is the time to more formally assess success. Here are some questions to consider: Did you accomplish all the initial goals? What worked well? What didn’t? What could you do differently, or better, next time? For instance, if only 2 agencies sent representatives to the planning committee, is there a more convenient time or place for next year’s meetings?
- Build on what you learn. By looking back at initial goals, you have a great basis to succeed next time. Repeat this cycle for all projects. Then share what you learned so that, together, we can continue our progress toward health literacy success.
More ways to learn:
- “Thinking Big about Health Literacy (HLOL #155).” Interviews with leaders of 3 large-scale health literacy programs.
- “Disruptive Innovation: The Next Generation of Health Literacy Products and Services (HLOL#122).” Health Literacy Out Loud podcast interview with Pamela Kelly.
- “Make a Business Case to Move Health Literacy Forward (HLOL #30).” Health Literacy Out Loud podcast interview with David Walsh.
- Health Literacy Month Handbook: The Event Planning Guide for Health Literacy Advocates, by Helen Osborne. Includes a chapter about assessing success of Health Literacy Month events.
For permission to include Health Literacy Consulting Tips in your organization's newsletter, please contact Helen Osborne by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at: 508-653-1199.