Good writing, good health: CDC publishes social media guide

Here at Diablogue we slog through a lot of health care reports that are loaded with jargon and sentences you need an advanced degree to unravel.

After a day of reading this stuff, it is easy to fall into the trap of writing like that.

While it’s easy to dismiss such concerns as shop talk, the reality is how we communicate in health care matters.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) is trying to do something about it. They have recently published their own guide to writing for social media.

The CDC notes that nearly nine in ten adults have difficulty using the every day health information that is routinely available in health care facilities, retail outlets, media and communities.

In the U.S., about one in three adults has below basic or basic health literacy skills, which according to the CDC, would make it difficult for them to follow the instructions on a prescription medicine label.

“Without clear information and an understanding of the information’s importance, people are more likely to skip necessary medical tests, end up in the emergency room more often, and have a harder time managing chronic diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure,” the CDC Guide states.

For us, we try to keep it simple so that anyone can participate on our BLOG. The policies that are decided upon by the Local Health Integration Networks and at Queen’s Park have a direct impact on Ontarians.

Years ago we complained that reading the title “Local Health Integration Network” would automatically put Ontarians into a fog of indifference. We note LHIN stories on the Diablogue do not get the same hits as other stories on health policy.

While we attempt to keep our writing simple, that doesn’t mean we’re not occasionally embarrassed when our French translators throw back one of our sentences to ask what it means? (For our French language site, go to

Our polls regularly show health care as among the top concerns of Ontarians. Yet there isn’t a single website on policy issues that commands corresponding attention from the public.

Clearly, as communicators, we all have a lot of work to do.

To download the CDC Guide, click here:  GuidetoWritingforSocialMedia.pdf

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