December 2023: Direct From CDC/Environmental Health Services
Journal of Environmental Health
Volume 86, Number 5
Editor's Note: The National Environmental Health Association strives to provide up-to-date and relevant information on environmental health and to build partnerships in the profession. In pursuit of these goals, we feature a column on environmental health services from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in every issue of the Journal of Environmental Health.
In these columns, authors from the CDC Water, Food, and Environmental Health Services Branch, as well as guest authors, will share tools, resources, and guidance for environmental health practitioners. The conclusions of these columns are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of CDC.
Promoting Health Literacy With Empathetic and Inclusive Communication
Traci Augustosky, MA, MAIS, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Kathleen Walker, CommunicateHealth
Allison Chatham, PhD, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Don Meadows, MA, Office of Communication, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Yvanna Marlin-Guanga, MPH, CommunicateHealth
When it comes to navigating health information, reading skills are not the whole picture. Health literacy also plays an important role. Health literacy is the ability to find, understand, and use health information. People who have been marginalized or medically underserved might face even more obstacles to getting the health information they need.
Overall, 9 out of 10 people struggle to understand health information. At first glance, that statistic might seem discouraging, but there is good news. By taking a clear and inclusive approach to communication, environmental public health professionals can make health information easier to understand, build trust, and show empathy for our readers. Communicating with empathy means showing our readers that we understand and value their feelings, perspectives, and experiences. This month’s column provides seven tips you can use to promote health literacy with empathetic and inclusive communication.