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Resources for Developing and Pretesting Concepts, Messages, Materials, and Activities

  • The CDC Clear Communication Index (Index) is a research-based tool for help in developing and assessing public communication materials. The Index has 4 introductory questions and 20 scored items drawn from scientific literature in communication and related disciplines. The items represent the most important characteristics that enhance and aid people's understanding of information. Before starting, identify: primary target audience, their health literacy skills, primary communication objectives, and main message. These 4 pieces of information must be known to score the material accurately.
  • This document lists frequently used terms in public health materials and their common, everyday alternatives in plain language sentences. Original sentence examples come from materials on
  • Recommendations for Using Plain Language to Communicate with the Public and as Guidance for Government Agencies to Fulfill the Requirements of the Plain Writing Act of 2010.
Doak, C, Doak, L, and Root, J. (1996). Teaching Patients with Low Literacy Skills. Philadelphia, PA.
  • This classic book provides useful information about understanding the communication barriers of people with limited literacy and how to write easier-to-use materials.
  • CDC’s Gateway to Communication and Social Marketing Practice provides resources to help build your health communication or social marketing campaigns and programs. Whether you are looking for tips for analyzing and segmenting an audience, choosing appropriate channels and tools, or evaluating the success of your messages or campaigns.
  • This toolkit provides practical suggestions about designing plain language communications.

Health Literacy Online: A Guide to Writing and Designing Easy-To-Use Health Websites (PDF) (103 pp, 3 MB)
The above site provides tips to design health websites, including user-centered design strategies. US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Quick Guide to Health Literacy. US Agency for HealthCare Research and Quality. (2010). Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit. Internet Citation: Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit. AHRQ Publication No. 10-0046- EF, April 2010. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. CDC Clear Communication Index Score Sheet and CDC Everyday Words for Public Health Communication