Writing and Designing Effective Communication: A Comprehensive Course

From left to right: Janet Ohene-Frempong, MS, Jann Keenan, EdS

From left to right: Janet Ohene-Frempong, MS, Jann Keenan, EdS

Jann Keenan and Janet Ohene-Frempong gave a daylong workshop. They provided detailed strategies for how to communicate effectively through both print and online materials. They used samples to illustrate what works and what doesn’t work.

“Health literacy is a subset of health communication,” said Ohene-Frempong. “How we communicate — across all these different media — that’s the issue. The other issue is navigation.”

The presenters explained the reader-centered approach: to engage, support, and motivate readers. And they offered tips for how to implement this approach.

We all have our preconceptions and ignorance. “Each of us is in our own little universe,” said Ohene-Frempong. “That’s why you need to check with the end-user.”

The presenters discussed how to write effective materials. They offered tips on content, organization, and style. They also discussed effective design and page layout.

It’s important to raise awareness in your designer about why design needs to be done a certain way. “You need to get buy-in early on,” Keenan said.

“There tends to be a tension between information and space,” said Ohene-Frempong. “If the information you’re giving readers is crucial, you don’t want to cut out information just to make space. You need to be an advocate for your reader.”

The presenters explained how to assess the readability of text and design and told how to use readability tools and field-testing. They discussed how to revise text and design to improve readability. They also told how to plan a writing project.

The workshop included two group exercises: a writing exercise and a revising exercise. The presenters led the group through the exercises step by step.

“If you have one takeaway from today, it’s that you really have to write for your reader — write for your end-user,” said Keenan. “That’s the only way to make the material clear and effective.”

Cultural Competency and the CLAS Standards

Marian Ryan, PhD, MA, MPH, CHES

Marian Ryan, PhD, MA, MPH, CHES

Marian Ryan began the session with a discussion on defining culture and cultural competence.  She said individuals view the world through a cultural lens and different thoughts and experiences are perceived differently depending on their culture.   She went on to explain that culture is dynamic and “many of us can evolve if we are open to it”.  She explained cultural competence as the ability to “communicate effectively with people that are different than ourselves” and stressed the importance of recognizing “cultural-based practices that dictate or organize us”.

Dr. Ryan commented that cultural competence is important to consider due to the changing of demographics in the US, the impact it can have on the sustainability of a business, and the critical role it plays in healthcare. The socio-cultural background of our clients can also have a large impact on individual members’ health values, beliefs, behaviors, quality of care and health outcomes.

Dr. Ryan stressed on the importance of understanding health disparities and the individuals that are directly impacted by these inequities, such as those with mental illness or low literacy rates.  Providing culturally competent cross-cultural care is key to combating these inequities and she provided effective frameworks that can be used to facilitate cross-cultural communication, such as the LEARN and BATHE models. She concluded with an explanation of the federal mandates that exist to address cultural competency, such as the CLAS Standards, ADA requirements and NCQA MultiCultural Standards.

Adapting Health Interventions for Improved Cultural Relevance

Cathy Meade, PhD, RN, FAAN

Cathy Meade, PhD, RN, FAAN

Cathy Meade began the session by discussing ways in which organizations can develop interventions that are tailored to the communities they serve.   In order to establish these interventions, Dr. Meade suggests pulling together different members of the community to gather their perspective on issues that surround the community.

Dr. Meade suggested interventions involve a “top down then bottom up” methodology.  This methodology implies that an evidence based curriculum is reviewed by the target population and then should be tailored to meet their needs.

To conclude the session, Dr. Meade gave an example from her field work of how utilization of all the components can lead to culturally relevant interventions.