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Health Literacy for Interprofessional Education (IPE) eToolkit

Intro to Plain Language

Plain language means just that: speaking in language that is clear and easy to understand. This can be hard in healthcare where medical terminology and acronyms prevail. Fortunately, there is a concerted effort to help healthcare professionals incorporate plain language into their daily practice in both oral and written communication. These resources can help.

Federal Plain Language Law & Healthcare

The President of the United States signed into law the Plain Writing Act of 2010 (H.R. 946/Public Law 111-274) on October 13, 2010. The law requires that all federal agencies, e.g. National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, use "clear Government communication that the public can understand and use." 

The following websites explain and promote plain language communication:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Issue Brief: Plain Language: A Promising Strategy for Clearly Communicating Health Information and improving Health Literacy. A good (and brief) overview of the primary concepts of plain language and its importance in addressing problems with health literacy.

PlainLanguage.gov.  Resources from the U.S.Government's Plain Language website. Lots of helpful guidelines, tips & tools, even an online training course! 

National Institutes of Health: Plain Language at NIH. A brief explanation of what plain language is and links to resources to support plain language communication.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Plain Language. Includes the helpful Every Day Words for Public Health Communication tool.

Articles - Plain Language Communication

Plain Language Tools

Videos: Plain Language & Clear Communication