Why should I pledge?
6 out of 10 of people in Australia have low health literacy.
This means that the majority of people in Australia have difficulty accessing, understanding and using health information as well as difficulty navigating the health system.
Using jargon, technical terms and acronyms contributes to low health literacy.
By dropping the jargon, you are helping individuals understand and use information to make informed decisions and actions affecting their health and wellbeing.
% of people in Australia with low health literacy
How do I drop the jargon?
Use plain language
1. Swap jargon for plain language.
For example: Swap ‘facilitate’ for ‘help’, ‘approximately’ for ‘about’, ‘modify’ for ‘change’. Here’s a useful resource to help you with your word/phrase swap.
2. Use the active voice, identifying who is doing the action.
3. Use ‘you’ and ‘we’ to talk directly to the person you’re speaking to.
The person is ‘you’. The health service or government agency is ‘we’. This will help engage your audiences.
4. Keep your sentences short
5. Avoid clichés
For example: ‘go cold turkey’
6. Explain any jargon you need to use.
If there is no plain language alternative, use jargon but explain the term the first time you use it.
7. Avoid abbreviations and acronyms
And if you do use them, explain what they are and spell them out.
8. Focus on the positive, not ‘should’ and ‘don’t’.
These plain language tips were sourced from the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services Communication and Health Literacy Toolkit.
Have plain language descriptions of medical terms at your fingertips
These tools convert medical language into everyday English.
We recommend you download this Plain Language Thesaurus to your desktop. This resource lists many medical terms with their plain language equivalent. For example, instead of saying ‘chronic obstructive pulmonary disease’, say ‘lung disease’. Instead of saying ‘rheumatoid arthritis’ say ‘disease of joints’.
To check if a person understands, ask them to explain or demonstrate what you said. If the person doesn’t explain it correctly or misses vital points, re-teach the information. This isn’t a test of the consumer’s knowledge; it’s a test of how well you’ve communicated.
Try using the teach-back technique
Teach-back is one of the easiest ways to check you’ve succeeded in communicating. It involves:
1. Emphasising that it’s your responsibility to explain things clearly
2. Asking the consumer to explain in their own words the main points from what you’ve said.
Low English proficiency
When you are working with people with limited English proficiency, you should use interpreters and/or translations services.
Sign the pledge
Drop the Jargon 2017Read or edit the petition
Pledge to Drop the Jargon
In taking the pledge, you are accepting the challenge to:
- Use plain language in all communication – with other staff and with clients
- Not use acronyms
- Explain medical and other technical terminology
- Check that information has been understood by your clients
- Work with a professional interpreter when your clients have low English proficiency
- Politely point out when your colleagues use jargon
See who has pledged
Aug 15, 2017
Drop the Jargon day is organised by a collection of organisations committed to improving health literacy.
Some of these agencies participated in the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health’s Health Literacy Course.
Based in Melbourne, Australia.
More information about the Health Literacy course
Health literacy course 2017
Each year, the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health runs a Health Literacy Course. This course builds the capacity of agencies to respond to health literacy at the level of the client-practitioner interaction, as well as embedding organisation-wide health literacy strategies into systems, operations, planning and workforce development.
This course will provide you strategies and tools to help you embed health literacy strategies in your organisation.
The course has four full-day workshops held every second month, along with small projects between each workshop so that the learning can be implemented within participants’ organisations.
There is also an Executives Forum that brings together course participants and senior executives to plan the way forward for health literacy at all levels of the organisations.
Enrolments open for 2017 in October 2016.
Course enquiries: please contact Jolyon Burford, Training Coordinator, Centre for Culture Ethnicity & Health via firstname.lastname@example.org.