This commentary highlights the need to focus on health literacy when designing messages to reach the most vulnerable populations affected by COVID-19.
A significant proportion of adults in industrialized countries have low health literacy and numeracy skills. It is important, therefore, to make information accessible by paying attention to tone and voice, organization of information, vocabulary, numbers, and data presentation. When doing this, health communicators and educators should consider the following steps when designing health messages:
- Commit to rigor and test COVID-19 information before releasing those messages to the public
- Apply evidence-based organizational and stylistic approaches that increase comprehension
- Use everyday language with helpful explanations for anything new
- Explain and provide meaningful context and interpretation of numbers
- Highlight protective health behaviors and provide specific instructions
Following these recommended guidelines can help individuals create clear, understandable messages. By focusing on health literacy, disparities and inequities during the COVID-19 pandemic may be reduced.