Communication strategies

Practicals ways to clearly communicate your health message.

Len & Ceci Doak Discuss Health Literacy’s Past, Present and Future (HLOL #13)

Cecelia (Ceci) and Leonard (Len) Doak are a husband and wife team who, for over 30 years, helped lead the way to health literacy. Their book, workshops, and articles have inspired advocates everywhere to improve health understanding.

Ceci started as a commissioned officer in the US Public Health Service. During her more 20 years there, Ceci developed and led numerous health education programs. In fact, she received a commendation from the Surgeon General for her work educating the public about cancer.

Len comes to health literacy via adult education, volunteering for many years as a tutor of non-readers. Len’s first career was as a Navy engineer and among his many accomplishments he helped simplify instructions for crews working on ships and submarines.

Len & Ceci co-authored the award-winning book, Teaching Patients with Low Literacy Skills. In their non-profit business Patient Learning Associates, Inc., Len and Ceci have written guidelines for many important projects and analyzed the suitability of over 2,000 healthcare materials in virtually all formats. They have presented at more than 200 health literacy workshops, training thousands of health professionals in all disciplines.

In this Health Literacy Out Loud podcast, they talk with Helen Osborne about the past, present, and future of health literacy. Topics include:

  • How health literacy began more than 30 years ago
  • Why health literacy was important then and is even more so today
  • Strategies to improve communication and assess if messages are understood
  • Ceci & Len Doak’s vision for health literacy in the future

More ways to learn:

  • Doak, Doak, & Root, Teaching Patients with Low Literacy Skills, Second Edition. 1996. Available for free at Harvard University School of Public Health’s Health Literacy Studies website, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/healthliteracy/resources/doak-book/
  • Houts, Doak, Doak, Lascalzo. “The role of pictures in improving health communication:  A review of research on the benefits of pictures on attention, comprehension, recall, and adherence.”  Patient Education and Counseling, 61 (2006) 173-190, 2005 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.
  • Osborne, H. “In Other Words…Can They Understand? Testing Patient Education Materials With Intended Readers,” On Call Magazine, Nov 2001. Available at http://www.healthliteracy.com/article.asp?PageID=3811

Read a transcript of this podcast. 
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Talking Health to Men (HLOL #12)

Joe Zoske, MS, MSW is the Administrative Coordinator of the BSW Social Work Program at Siena College in Loudonville, NY. He incorporates his interests in communication, literacy, and men’s health in his teaching of Health Care Communication Skills and Gender Health courses. Zoske promotes a “whole man model of male wellness,” communicating health information in ways that are male-compassionate and male-affirming.

In this podcast, he talks with Helen Osborne about communication strategies for talking health to men. Topics include:

  • Gender as it relates to cultural competence and health disparities
  • How and why men receive health messages differently than women
  • Strategies providers can use to teach men about illness and well-being

More ways to learn:

  • Men’s Health Network, PO Box 770   Washington, D.C. 20044. http://www.menshealthnetwork.org. This is the lobbying organization for men’s health in the U.S. which also promotes National Men’s Health Week.
  • Osborne, H. “In Other Words… What’s the Difference? . . . Does Gender Matter When Communicating About Health?” On Call magazine, December 2004. Available at http://www.healthliteracy.com/article.asp?PageID=3787
  • Senay, E & Waters, R. (2004). From Boys to Men: A Women’s Guide to the Health of Husbands, Partners, Sons, Fathers, and Brothers. Scribner: NY
  • Zaman, F. and Underwood, C. (March 2003). The Gender Guide for Health Communication Programs. Center Publication No. 102. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health / Center for Communication Programs. Available at http://www.jhuccp.org/pubs/cp/102/102.pdf
  • Zoske, J. Men’s Health & Wellness: 50 Health Promotion Ideas for Educators, Planners, and Practitioners. 1998. Contact Zoske directly at: Siena College, Social Work House, 515 Loudon Rd, Loudonville NY 12211.

Pauline Hamel Talks About Intergenerational Health Communication (HLOL #11)

Pauline C. Hamel, Ed.D, PT, teaches in Boston University’s online Master of Science in Health Communication program and Northeastern University’s Health Sciences program. She is a physical therapist, educator, former healthcare administrator, geriatric specialist, and now consultant. Her interests include interdisciplinary research, teaching, writing, and consulting in the areas of health communication, health literacy, public health, professional development, intergenerational service learning, and health promotion in older adults. You can reach Pauline Hamel at phamel@bu.edu.

In the podcast, she talks with Helen Osborne about intergenerational health communication. Topics include:

  • How college students and older adults are often more alike than different
  • Ways different generations can learn from, and teach, one another
  • Why service learning matters and ways you can get involved

More ways to learn about intergenerational teaching and learning:

Domenic Screnci Talks About Visual Literacy (HLOL #9)

Domenic Screnci, Ed.D. is the Executive Director for Educational Media and Technology at Boston University. He also co-directs Boston University’s new online Master of Science Health Communications Program. Dr. Screnci has 30 years experience in the field of biocommunications and serves as an educational technologist, instructional systems designer and integrator, instructional designer and a producer of curriculum materials for traditional and new media based educational projects.

In this Health Literacy Out Loud podcast, he talks with Helen Osborne about visual literacy. Topics include:

  • What visual literacy is and how it relates to health literacy
  • Ways visual literacy helps readers interact with information
  • How to adapt visuals to meet the needs of specific audiences

More ways to learn:

Books & articles:

  • Burmark, L. (2002) Visual Literacy: Learn to See, See to Learn.
  • Clark, R.C. & Lyons, C. (2004). Graphics for Learning.
  • Doak, C.C., Doak, L.G., Root, J.H., 1996. Teaching Patients with Low Literacy Skills (2nd ed.). (Chapter 7: Visuals and How to Use Them). http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/healthliteracy/doak.html
  • Gangwer, Timothy Patrick (2nd Edition out Feb. 15, 2009) Visual Impact, Visual Teaching: Using Images to Strengthen Learning
  • Hodgdon, L. A. (1995). Visual Strategies For Improving Communications: Practical Support for Home and School.
  • Lambert, David and Browning Wroe, Jo (2008) Visual Literacy (Bk. 1) Lipton, R. (2002). Designing Across Cultures: How to Create Effective Graphics for Diverse Ethnic Groups.
  • Lohr, Linda L. (2007) Creating Graphics for Learning and Performance: Lessons in Visual Literacy (2nd Edition)
  • “Thoughts on Visual Literacy,” http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/healthliteracy/doak.html
  • “Visual Literacy in Higher Education,” http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI4001.pdf
  • “Information Design: It is all in the process,” http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI4001.pdf

Lee Joesten Talks About Generating Hospital-Wide Interest & Activity About Health Literacy (HLOL #6)

Leroy (Lee) B. Joesten is Vice President of Mission and Spiritual Care at Lutheran General Hospital, part of Advocate Health Care in the Chicagoland area. He is an ordained Lutheran minister and certified hospital chaplain. Chaplain Joesten has developed ministries for the bereaved and those facing life threatening and terminal illnesses. He also has chaired Lutheran General’s Health Literacy Task Force since 2003.

In this podcast, he talks with Helen Osborne about generating hospital-wide interest and activity about health literacy. Topics include:

  • Why health literacy is important to address hospital-wide
  • Health literacy strategies, initiatives, and lessons learned
  • Wishes and vision for the future in terms of health literacy

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 4, 11, 27, 41.

Jan Potter Talks about Using Humor & Graphics to Convey Health Information (HLOL #5)

Jan Potter is a communications specialist with the Partnership for Health and Accountability, a division of the Georgia Hospital Association. Among her many accomplishments, Jan designed a bulletin board system on a variety of health education topics. These bulletin boards are free for others to download and use. In addition, Jan works on a wide range of projects, newsletters, and websites. Her most recent is an online toolkit to promote tobacco-free hospital campuses in Georgia.

In this Health Literacy Out Loud podcast, she talks with Helen Osborne about using humor and graphics to convey health information. Topics include:

  • How bulletin boards help draw attention to important health information
  • Ways to use color, humor, and graphics to engage and empower patients
  • Tips to create your own bulletin boards or build on what others have done

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 38, 40.

Lisa Bernstein Talks about Patient-Centered Communication (HLOL #4)

Lisa Bernstein is Executive Director and Co-founder of the What to Expect Foundation based in New York City. This non-profit organization takes its name and leadership from the best selling pregnancy guide What to Expect When You’re Expecting. The Foundation helps low-income, at-risk parents expect healthier pregnancies, safer deliveries, and happier babies. One of Lisa’s many responsibilities is directing the “Baby Basics Prenatal Health Literacy Program.”

In this Health Literacy Out Loud Podcast, she talks with Helen Osborne about using patient-centered communication to reach communities. Topics include:

  • Baby Basics: Why this easy-to-read pregnancy guide was created and ways to use it in practice.
  • How lessons learned from Baby Basics apply to many health situations including teaching about diabetes, smoking cessation and hypertension.
  • Ways to evaluate and use simply-written materials in context of a person’s life and community.

More ways to learn:

  • What to Expect Foundation website includes information about the book Baby Basics. Available at http://www.whattoexpect.org. You can reach Lisa Bernstein by email at lisab@whattoexpect.org
  • Health Literacy Out Loud (audio CD). Helen Osborne talks with Lisa Bernstein about Creating and Using Excellent Written Materials. Available at http://www.healthliteracy.com/buy.asp?PageID=3672
  • Osborne, H. “In Other Words… Helping Patients Ask Questions.” On Call Magazine, November/December 2006. This article includes quotes from Lisa Bernstein. Available at http://www.healthliteracy.com/article.asp?PageID=5179
  • Osborne H, 2004. Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett. To order, go to most online bookstores or the publisher’s website at http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/0763745502/
  • Zarcadoolas C, Pleasant AF, Greer DS, 2006. Advancing Health Literacy: A Framework for Understanding and Action. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 24, 27, 28, 32, 41.

Adam Weiss Talks about Podcasting (HLOL #1)

Adam Weiss is a successful educational podcaster and podcast consultant. An expert interviewer and communicator, he aims to show that podcasting is more about story, presentation, and technique than fancy gear and tech toys.

He was the creator and of the popular Current Science & Technology Podcast for the Museum of Science in Boston, which he hosted for more than two years. He has also created the critically acclaimed Boston Behind the Scenes Podcast as well as the newly-launched Puzzle Podcast.

In this Health Literacy Out Loud podcast, Adam Weiss talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • What podcasts are
  • How people can access and download podcasts
  • Why podcasts are an emerging and important tool of communication

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 33, 40, 42.

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