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How can health professionals address health literacy at the public health level?
Public health professionals and medical writers are in a key position to help the public understand health information, whether it be established content or the latest medical research.
- The same principles of clear health communication apply.
- The primary difference may be the medium of communication, with greater use of newspapers, magazines, television, posters, billboards, and the internet.
- Locations also differ, with public health messages more often being delivered in local communities, grocery stores, health fairs, and other venues.
In this setting, consumers often make a quick decision about whether or not the message applies to them, and therefore, whether or not the will attend to it. For example, walking by an informational poster on screening for colon cancer, a middle aged woman may gauge the personal relevance of this information in a fraction of a second, consciously or subconsciously. In public health, making health messages relevant and engaging is particularly important. Involving members of the target community in developing, implementing, and evaluating programs is essential.
The CDC offers a free online health literacy training program for public health professionals. This program provides an overview of health literacy in the public health context, numerous examples, and recommendations for communicating health messages clearly to the public.
This website also has a policy section.