How-To Tips

Health Literacy

Each month, Helen Osborne posts tips about how to communicate health information more clearly. Here is a listing of some recent HLC (Health Literacy Consulting) How-To Tips:

  • Listening & Speaking December 1, 2023
    Health Literacy How-To Just because listening & speaking happens a lot doesn’t mean that this form of communication is always easy or effective. For instance, speaking can be hard when providers are rushed, explain the same concepts over and over again, or assume that patients understand everything being said. For patients, listening can be hard because ...
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  • Metaphors, Similes, and Analogies November 1, 2023
    Metaphors, similes, and analogies are figures of speech used to help people understand unfamiliar words and concepts. They do so by comparing new information to that which people already know. While there are important distinctions between these forms of speech, for sake of simplicity I’ll use the overall term “metaphor.” Here are some how-to ways for ...
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  • How Health Literacy Month Started October 1, 2023
    Health Literacy Month is a time for advocates everywhere to focus on the importance of communicating health information in ways that patients and the public can understand. Celebrated worldwide each October, Health Literacy Month has been going strong since I founded it in 1999. Here’s the behind-the-scenes story about how Health Literacy Month got started. I first ...
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  • Tone: Inviting Readers to Read September 1, 2023
    You have a lot of important health information to share. But will intended readers want to read it? You can help by writing in a way that readers not only find worthy of their time but also feel welcomed. Here’s how-to: Speak directly to the reader, using words such as “you” and “your.” This is much ...
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  • Health Literacy Along the Continuum of Care August 1, 2023
    Health literacy matters along the continuum of care. This includes wellness, access, illness, and self-care. Wherever we work and whatever we do, it is important to consider health literacy at all phases along the continuum of care. Here are some suggestions about ways to help. Wellness. This is about doing what’s needed for people to stay healthy, ...
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  • Confirm Understanding: Feedback July 1, 2023
    Just because we say something, just because we write it, just because we know this information is important does not necessarily mean that the person we are communicating with will be able to read, relate to, and follow this information. It is vital that we confirm that messages are truly understood. This month’s How-To-Tip is about using ...
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  • Confirm Understanding: Teach-Back June 1, 2023
    It is vital that we as health communicators confirm that our messages are truly understood. Two important ways to do this are with teach-back (for the spoken word) and feedback (for print and web information).  This month’s How-To Tip looks at teach-back. This is a back-and-forth verbal exchange used to assess whether both sides of a ...
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  • Communicating with People from Other Cultures and Languages May 1, 2023
    Accessing, using, and understanding the U.S. healthcare system is difficult for almost everyone. But for people who speak limited English or come from other cultures, these tasks might seem impossible. In terms of language, it can take people many years to become fluent. With limited English, people may have sufficient social language to talk about ...
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  • Communicating with People Who Have Mild Memory Loss April 1, 2023
    Health communication is often a challenge. There can be new terms for patients to learn, numbers to understand, and hard choices to make about treatment and care. When a person has mild memory loss or other cognitive challenge, communication that was already difficult may now be even harder. Here are some tips to help: Consider why ...
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  • Communicating with People Who Have Hearing Loss March 1, 2023
    It is important to communicate clearly with everyone, including those who have hearing loss. Hearing loss ranges from being hard of hearing (mild hearing loss) to being deaf (total hearing loss). People who are deaf from birth often identify as Deaf (with an uppercase “D”) to indicate that they are part of a specific cultural ...
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  • Know Your Audience: Communicating with People Who Have Vision Loss February 1, 2023
    The term vision loss refers to “individuals who reported that they have trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, as well as to individuals who report that they are blind or unable to see at all,” according to the American Foundation for the Blind. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that public facilities, ...
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  • Why Health Literacy Matters January 1, 2023
    Health literacy is at the forefront of many current health initiatives. That’s great, of course. But I sometimes wonder why it’s getting more attention than in years past. Here are my musings about why health literacy matters today:  Patients need to understand health information quickly because they have less direct contact with their providers. This can include ...
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