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How Content Writing Helps Improve Health Literacy

Featured image for the blog post, How Content Writing Helps Improve Health Literacy

Imagine sitting in your doctor’s office—the nurse who checked you in just finished asking you a few questions and taking your vital signs. “The doctor will see you soon,” they say. You wait patiently for what seems like forever.

When your doctor finally comes, they do a quick assessment, type a couple of notes on their laptop, and decide that you have a condition that sounds like a species from another planet. They try to explain further, but everything you hear is new to you, so none of it makes sense. Your appointment time is up, but you’re still scratching your head. “So, what’s wrong with me?”

You turn to the Internet, relieved to find a health article that explains your diagnosis in plain language. Now, you are ready to make informed decisions about your new diagnosis.

Unfortunately, this situation happens too often. The truth is healthcare providers just don’t have enough time to sit down and explain every detail of every diagnosis to every patient. They have other patients to see.

That’s where content writing comes in. Whenever you read a health-related article, blog post, social media post, or other media, you improve your health literacy using content writing.

What is Health Literacy?

  • The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recently defined health literacy as two separate terms, according to their Healthy People 2030 initiative:
    Personal health literacy is the level at which an individual can find, understand, and use healthcare information to make well-informed decisions and actions.
  • Organizational health literacy is the level at which organizations enable individuals to find, understand, and use healthcare information to make those well-informed decisions and actions.

This updated definition of health literacy is crucial because it highlights people’s ability to use health information rather than just understand it. It also implies that healthcare organizations are responsible for improving health literacy for the public. When healthcare organizations focus on improving health literacy, they build trust in their consumers, which helps their businesses thrive.

What Factors Affect Health Literacy?

Many factors affect health literacy; here are a few:

  • Being a part of a racial or ethnic minority group
  • Having English as your second language
  • Having low digital literacy

Even though you may be good at reading and dealing with numbers, you can still experience health literacy issues when you aren’t familiar with medical terms, how to analyze statistics, or how your body works. If your healthcare provider diagnoses you with a severe condition, fear and anxiety can also affect how you handle complex information necessary to care for yourself properly.

silhouette of a family on top of a facemask, stethoscope, and heart item

What are the Benefits of Having Good Health Literacy?

Having good health literacy empowers you to manage your health confidently. Here are some of the benefits:

1. Prevent disease.

You can take the necessary actions to prevent disease when you know you are at higher risk of getting it. For example, if you are a 55-year-old woman with good health literacy, you would know your risk for breast cancer is higher than that of a 30-year-old woman. So, you schedule a mammogram to make sure everything looks normal.

2. Protect your health.

Some health conditions can be dangerous if you don’t know how to manage them. For instance, if you have diabetes, you should know that sweating and irritability are signs of low blood sugar. If you aren’t aware of this, you could be in danger and not even know it.

3. Take care of health issues properly when they come up.

Managing specific health issues can be overwhelming, especially with multiple illnesses. Or, your doctor could prescribe several medications with particular instructions. Good health literacy allows you to follow these instructions confidently and avoid potential complications or medication errors.

Promoting Health Literacy Using Content Writing

We live in the Digital Age in which virtually everything is available online. Google is a popular search engine for people looking for answers regarding their health. In fact, people perform 77,000 healthcare-related searches every minute. You can improve your health literacy online simply by Googling medical advice, but not all information on the Internet is credible.

Healthcare organizations often use health content writing, a form of communication (usually digital) that builds trust in consumers by providing useful, credible medical information in plain language.

Health content writing gives the general public access to medical information at a level they can understand. It enhances readability by using a conversational tone of voice. It also uses short paragraphs to deliver high-quality, research-based information, which empowers people to engage in their care and adopt healthy habits.

Translating confusing medical information into actionable advice is a special skill. Knowing what to write and how to write it is vital in improving health literacy, which is why the best type of health writer is someone with experience and credibility in the healthcare industry.

Nurses make the best choice for health content writing because they usually spend the most time educating and taking care of patients directly. Naturally, they are in tune with patients’ needs and tailor their written content to meet those needs.

At Write RN, we provide credible, research-based health content writing with a touch of compassion. We have subject matter expert nurses who can speak to many specialties in healthcare, which makes us the obvious choice for professional content writing. If you want to learn more, reach out to us here!

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 26). What Is Breast Cancer Screening?. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/screening.htm#:~:text=Breast%20Cancer%20Screening%20Recommendations&text=The%20USPSTF%20recommends%20that%20women,often%20to%20get%20a%20mammogram

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, December 30). Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia). https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/low-blood-sugar.html

Digitalis. (2023). All The Healthcare Marketing Statistics To Pay Close Attention To In 2023. https://digitalismedical.com/blog/healthcare-marketing-statistics/ 

Pérez-Stable, E. J., & El-Toukhy, S. (2018). Communicating with diverse patients: How patient and clinician factors affect disparities. Patient Education and Counseling, 101(12), 2186-2194. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2018.08.021.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Health Literacy in Healthy People 2030. Healthy People 2030. https://health.gov/healthypeople/priority-areas/health-literacy-healthy-people-2030

About the Author

Arleen Veloria
Arleen Veloria, BSN, RN, CPN

Arleen Veloria is a freelance nurse writer with over eight years of clinical nursing experience in Pediatrics, Pediatric Oncology, and MedSurg. As a Certified Pediatric Nurse, she specializes in writing Pediatric health and wellness content. She is also a U.S. Navy Nurse Corps veteran, military wife, and mother. If you would like to connect, you can find her on LinkedIn!

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