You work hard to make a health literacy difference. Whether implementing a new initiative or revising an on-going program, plan now how to assess success later on. Doing so not only can help you focus more clearly but also demonstrate a commitment to moving forward in an objective and sustainable way.
Here are some how-to tips:
- 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.”) If you are creating a health program for the public, then a goal might be to have [x] number of community agencies represented on the planning committee.
- Review these goals from time to time. While working on this project, periodically review the initial goals to make sure you still are doing what was planned. But allow some flexibility. Here’s an example. When updating a fact sheet about diabetes you know that most readers have been living with this condition for several years. They now might be more interested in long-term strategies rather than treatment choices at the start. The best way to know what to do is by asking 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 few people consistently came to your meetings then what other time or place would be more convenient?
- 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 learn to help continue progress toward health literacy success.
More ways to learn:
- “Health Literacy Listening Tour (HLOL #188).” Health Literacy Out Loud podcast interview with Audrey Riffenburgh.
- “Thinking Big about Health Literacy (HLOL #155).” Interviews with 3 leaders of 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.
- Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (updated 2018) by Helen Osborne. Chapter 27, “Organizational Efforts: Health Literacy at Community, State, and National Levels” is especially relevant to this month’s How-To Tip.
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.