If you write online health content for the general public, should you consider upskilling in a bit of humour writing?
We know that people turn to user-generated content on social media to research their health concerns, but how influential is this health information?
And, more importantly, how does this type of influence impact the health content we create?
While there are many evidence-based writing techniques we can use to engage readers to try and get their full, undivided attention, controlling how our readers react to bad news is just as important as engagement. So, if you’re working on a project that requires you to deliver bad news, what’s the most appropriate communication strategy?
Daniel Sokol, lawyer and medical ethicist, has just been shortlisted for the ‘Best Columnist of the Year (Consumer Media)’ award at the PPA Awards 2018 (“the Oscars of the UK publishing industry”). In 2015, Daniel won ‘Best Column’ at the UK Medical Journalists’ Association Awards. In this article, he gives aspiring medical columnist some tips for success.
Had The Lancet not published their now retracted article, “Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children” by Andrew Wakefield et al. in 1998, perhaps we wouldn’t be facing one of the most significant public health challenges of our time.
Fear-mongering and scare tactics are used in public health campaigns to drive behavioural changes. We see fear in headlines for online articles, food label warnings, pamphlets and brochures. But how effective are these fear-based messages?
Producing clear, accurate and engaging health content for a lay or consumer audience can seem extremely daunting. My clear health writing checklist helps you break down the art and science of clear health writing.
There’s no denying that assessing your writing is a daunting, confusing task. Luckily, there are quite a few ways to evaluate your skills so you can develop your writing abilities with confidence.
A US research team aimed to determine the natural language indicators of uncertainty – and then understand how these indicators predict decisional conflict.
Health buzzwords like ‘protein’, ‘paleo’ and ‘organic’ are used by marketers as key selling points for many of today’s health products. Yet these words can also trick consumers into believing a product is healthier than it really is.
As health writers, we focus a lot of our energy on knowledge. We write ‘how to’ articles about eating better, exercising more, breaking bad habits, making healthy choices and reducing risk factors. We offer knowledge – but, we rarely sell the desire to change.
This is a question that comes up often in my course groups. And, it’s reasonable and natural to worry about time. Time is money. The less time you spend writing, the more money you make. The more time you spend researching, writing, reviewing and refining, the more your hourly rate drops.
As health writers, we need to recognise and understand the social factors that limit health literacy so we can help our readers understand our health information. We can do this by looking at the key outcomes from a range of health literacy research into both local and global communities.
As health writers, we need to identify the ideal medium to share our key messages to our target audience to ensure our writing influences health outcomes.
While quality medical evidence underlies accurate health writing, clear writing helps the information translate easily – enter the concept of ‘processing fluency’.