Good-quality health content should almost always include advice and opinion from experts.
Quotes from experts enhance the quality of your writing. They’re a tool that can help readers to trust your arguments and believe in what you’re putting forth.
Quotes also provides you with unique perspectives so you can add depth to your writing.
If you want to write quality content that your readers understand, it’s important to try and add a new perspective to your story. Otherwise, you’re just rehashing what everyone else has said.
Expert quotes can help to provide this new perspective.
So whether you’re reporting on medical breakthroughs or health features, expert quotes are generally thought to be must-have inclusions.
Types of health experts
These days, anyone can be an expert on anything.
If you do something enough, or are passionate about it, you can call yourself an expert.
Maybe all this expertness means we’re becoming too flippant with the term, and aren’t giving it the respect it deserves.
But in health writing, experts tend to include the following types of people and professions:
- Medical professionals
- Holistic health professionals
- Health bloggers with big followings
- Medical authors
- Medical education authorities
- Government bodies
- Professional organisations
Tailor your expert to your audience
When you’re sourcing experts for your health content, think about who’s going to be reading your content.
Try to choose an expert who resonates with these types of readers. For example, I may tend to choose a more holistic health expert if I am writing about pregnancy for a women’s health website.
On the other hand, if I were writing a medical news piece about a new piece of pregnancy-related research, I would definitely be inclined to quote an experienced Obstetrician.
Choose experts who add value to your writing
Find an expert who has something unique to say or an interesting perspective that adds substance to your writing.
If you’re speaking to a study author, make the effort to tease out what exactly is significant about the study so you have something new and original to say.
Recognise the need to use health experts
Experts add credibility to your work, and for certain topics, some are better than others.
A recent article published on smh.com.au on the dangers of pregnancy pill popping tells a familiar tale of the many pregnant women who are unwittingly consuming dangerous herbal medicines during pregnancy.
This is backed up with quotes from CHOICE, like:
“Given some herbs are capable of causing adverse pregnancy outcomes such as miscarriage, preterm labor and birth defects it is crucial pregnant women educate themselves on potential impacts on their health.”
While this advice is sound, it would perhaps be more encouraging if coming from a General Practitioner or Obstetrician. As a consumer watchdog, are CHOICE really the best body to be providing the final word on nutrition during pregnancy?
In my experience, experts are difficult to get in touch with. That’s why, as a health and medical writer, you need to develop a strong network of professionals you can turn to for advice.
Try and have several experts on your list who cover the same topic, so you’re not always scrambling for a quote in the eleventh hour.
Generally, doctors can be extremely difficult to get in touch with as they are in practice for most of the day. Sometimes you need to hound them: phone, email, phone again until you get a yes or no answer.
Do you always need quotes from health experts?
This really depends on the topic. The more familiar you become with health writing, the better your judgement will be.