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Health Literacy & Communications

Health information and health care are becoming more complex. For people with limited literacy skills, the challenge can be overwhelming. Lack of understanding can lead to poor health outcomes, excess hospitalization, and increased costs.

At HRA, we have over 20 years’ experience helping our clients meet the literacy and communication needs of diverse audiences. Our resources explain complex health issues to audiences with widely different cultures, literacy levels, and languages. Our goal is to help all consumers, especially those with limited literacy skills, understand and act on important health information. The health resources we create have shown statistically significant changes in knowledge and behavior.

Photo of pharmacist advising customer

Services include:

  • Readability Assessments
  • Writing & Designing for Readability & Usability
  • Health Literacy Trainings & Audits
  • Linguistic & Cultural Adaptation
  • Alternative Formats & Accessible Design
  • Broad Areas of Expertise

    Readability Assessments

    We assess 
the grade level of written information, using validated readability tests. And we provide extensive feedback on the many aspects of readability and usability that are not addressed in tests of grade level, including content, organization, cultural appropriateness, and design. We use validated tests to assess both print and web-based materials. We provide you with documentation of the strengths and weaknesses of your materials, as well as concrete suggestions for improvements.
    Diabetes in Vulnerable Populations in Contra Costa County
    Evidence of Coverage Project

    Writing & Designing for Readability & Usability

    We can help you develop and revise health communications materials using our tested and reliable six-step process.
    1. Planning
    2. Content organization
    3. Writing
    4. Design and layout
    5. Tailoring to your audience
    6. Testing
    Health Communication Tips (PDF)
    Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs Fact Sheets

    Health Literacy Trainings & Audits

    Our customized and interactive health literacy trainings help staff from your writing, education, legal, marketing, medical, and management departments work together to create health communication materials that are effective and clearly written. The training includes video, lecture, discussion, and hands-on activities.

    Training topics can include:
    1. What health literacy is and why it is important
    2. Planning and processes for developing clear materials
    3. Organizing information for clarity
    4. The basics of readability and usability testing
    5. Identifying and assisting people with limited literacy

    We also provide consultation on communication issues, including communication audits and health literacy standardization.
    California Health Communication Project

    Linguistic & Cultural Adaptation

    We translate and adapt materials in Spanish, Chinese, and over 12 other languages, including American Sign Language. We focus on maintaining easy-to-read content that is culturally appropriate. We conduct focus groups and usability tests in these languages to improve the readability, usability, and cultural appropriateness of materials.
    Parents Guide (California)
    Medi-Cal Access Project Part 1

    Alternative Formats & Accessible Design

    We develop materials in Braille, audio (MP3, CD, and cassette), large print, text-only, and DVD for people with disabilities. We use a wide variety of graphic design techniques to create materials that are both usable and appealing.
    DMHC Website Redesign

    Broad Areas of Expertise

    We have successfully developed easy-to-read information on a wide variety of topics, including Medicare, Medicaid, private health insurance, HMOs, diabetes, medication safety, physical activity, fall prevention, parenting, caregiving, and environmental health issues. Our health literacy experts have created easy-to-use adaptations of many consumer health communications: Evidence of Coverage templates, legal language, forms, patient correspondence, newsletters, notices, patient instructions, etc.