Health Literacy and Plain Language

Nutrition Education

Health literacy is the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions. Using plain language when communicating nutrition or other important health-related messages is essential for improving health literacy and, in turn, assisting individuals in processing, understanding and acting on the information being relayed.

Below are some resources to learn more about health literacy and plain language as well as tools to help staff improve health literacy among participants and use plain language in their nutrition and health education messages.
 

Health Literacy

Toolkit for Making Written Material Clear and Effective Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Provides a set of tools to help create written materials in printed formats that are easier for people to read, understand and use (this toolkit covers written materials on a website in a limited way).

Health Literacy Online Source: Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
A research-based guide for developing websites and digital tools.

What is Health Literacy Source: Department of Health and Human Services, CDC
Reviews the importance of health literacy skills and provides tools to develop and test materials, links to guidelines, laws and standards, as well as additional health literacy web resources.
 

Plain Language

Plainlanguage.gov Source: Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN)
Provides plain language guidelines, training resources and examples that agencies can use in developing participant education materials.

Information Management - Plain Language Source: Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
Reviews the importance of, and tips for, using plain language.