March 14

6 ways to make your health content easier to digest

6 ways to make your health content easier to digest

Got some meaty health content you’d like to share with patients? Here’s 6 ways to transform mouthfuls of complex health information into tasty, easy-to-swallow morsels.

Hint: these tips also work with any complex material, suchas finance, legal, technology and engineering information.

1. Use plain English

This might seem obvious. However, when you’re immersed inhealth (or any specialist field), it can be easy to insert jargon into youreveryday communication – often without realising it.

Most consumers don’t have the years of training and experience to understand health and medical terminology.

Take this example, from the EncyclopaediaBritannica’s entry for synovial fluid:

“The main features of synovial fluid are: (1) Chemically,it is a dialyzate (a material subjected to dialysis) of blood plasma… (2)Physically, it is a markedly thixotropic fluid—that is, one that is bothviscous and elastic. … (3) Functionally, it has two parts to play: nutritionand lubrication. It has been established that synovial fluid alone, by virtueof its being a blood-plasma dialyzate, can nourish the articulating partsof the articular cartilages.”

What a mouthful! Of course, an encyclopaedic entry must bethorough and accurate. But if your health content reads like this, it’s way toochewy for most health consumers to swallow.

Instead, try something like, “Synovial fluid is a mildlythick, sticky body fluid that nourishes and lubricates your joints.”

You can apply this tip to any field of health.

2. Use analogies and similes

A great way to aid understanding is to liken your complexidea to something everyone can relate to. Getting back to synovial fluid, youcould explain its function by likening it to engine oil.

So, “Just like engine oil allows surfaces to glide freelyover each other, synovial fluid acts like a lubricant between the surfaces ofyour joints. Unlike engine oil, however, synovial fluid also provides nourishmentto the joint surfaces.”

See how you can also contrast the two for further clarity?

Or if you’re a dietitian, you can liken food to a vehicle’s fuel (maybe you already do this). Just as a car runs best on clean fuel that’s right for its specifications, your body runs best when nourished with clean, healthy food that suits your needs.

This method can be especially effective if you know something of your patient’s interests. You can tap into things they know and understand for even more effective explanations. Say, for example, your client loves fishing and you want to explain how exercise will help their back pain (or, for a dietitian, their need to follow a healthy diet to manage weight).

You could say, “When you go fishing, you wait for the tideand use certain bait to catch fish, right? In the same way, these exercises createthe right conditions to help your back pain (or these foods create the conditionsyou need to lose weight).”

3. Charts and graphs

Especially when it comes to health information withstatistics, a visual representation is often better than explaining with a lotof words. Graphs and charts can also add value to your explanations.

This graph, for example, taken from WikimediaCommons, is an easy-to-understand snapshot of the fraction of cancersestimated to be induced by HPV (from 2006).

Graph showing the fraction of cancers estimated to be induced by HPV (from 2006).

There are several free online tools you can use to make your own great-looking graphs and charts, such as Canva, Visme and Venngage. You could use them in your blogs or client newsletters.

4. Examples

Examples help to make abstract, complex ideas andinformation easier to understand. You can see how I’ve used the synovial fluidexample already.

In a recent article covering new research about back painand lifting, I used an example to illustrate pain and fear-avoidance. Here itis:

“For example, say you injured your back bending to pick up abox. It gets better, but your mind associates bending with injury. You avoidbending, instead reminding yourself to always keep your back straight. Thisleads to stiffness and more back pain.”

5. Infographics

I loves me a good infographic!

Like charts, infographics are a visual representation ofinformation or data, designed to present it quickly, clearly and attractively. A well-designed one will simplify a complex subject into somethingengaging.

You can use them in your social media posts, blog posts, articles,newsletters and EDMs.

I’m no graphic designer, but here’s a simple, freeinfographic I created on Canva to illustrate this article.

Infographic covering 6 ways to make health content easier to understand
An infographic is a visual way to present data or information

6. Images and photos

I always say one word conjures up as many pictures as the people reading it (think bedroom right now and I’ll bet your image is different to anyone else’s!). As a health copywriter I hate to admit it, but sometimes a picture is better.

Scoliosis image from Wikimedia Commons and healthy food plate from Free stock photos.biz

Images and photos are a great way to add value to your words, or, in some cases, replace them. How much easier for a reader to understand scoliosis from an image, for example, or what a healthy plate looks like.

In your clinic, have a tablet on hand to quickly look upimages to show your patients. Or use them in your online/printed marketingmaterials (with appropriate copyright permission and attribution, of course!)

I hope you’vefound some helpful ways to break down your meaty health content into spicyspoonful’s. After all, you want your readers to come back for more!

 Are there any other ways you do this? I’d loveto hear about them.

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