Drop the Jargon is a day for professionals in Australian health, community services and local government to use plain language.
Why should I pledge?
6 out of 10 of people in Australia have low health literacy.
Many Australians have trouble understanding and using information provided by organisations. They also have trouble navigating complicated systems like healthcare services.
When we use jargon, technical terms or acronyms, it is hard for people with low health literacy to understand and use information.
Drop the Jargon Day this year is on 23 October. Pledge and take part in activities at your workplace. Make it easy for people with low health literacy to get better information and outcomes from services they use.
How do I drop the jargon?
Use plain language
1. Swap jargon for plain language.
For example: Swap ‘facilitate’ for ‘help’. Here’s a useful resource to help.
2. Use the active voice, identifying who is doing the action.
For example: Change ‘The prescription can be picked up by you at the pharmacy’ to ‘You can pick up the prescription at the pharmacy’.
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: ‘give me a hand’
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.
More resources here.
Have plain language descriptions of confusing terms at your fingertips
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.
Check out this video for an example – Here’s a video that demonstrates the teach-back technique in a hepatitis B context.
Low English proficiency
Pledge to Drop the Jargon
- 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
Resources to promote and celebrate the day:
- Run a lunchtime quiz. Download Quiz (pdf)
- Put up posters at your workplace. Download Posters A4, A3, A2
- Share this video on your website, or via social media. Video to share https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_-PT1HokT4
- Add a banner to your website or social media. Download banners: Large 1440 x 500px Smaller 997 x 345px
Better health literacy practice in organisations can dramatically improve health outcomes, particularly in the most marginalised population groups. Knowing this, the passionate organisations below decided to do something to promote good communication with and help organisations reach more people in our community.
Thanks to this enthusiasm, Drop the Jargon has grown over the last three years and reached thousands of dedicated practitioners and organisations.
More information about the Health Literacy course
Health literacy course
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 in October. Course enquiries: please contact Jolyon Burford, Training Coordinator at Centre for Culture Ethnicity & Health.