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Health Equity Considerations for Developing Public Health Communications

Rural organizations can improve cultural competency by incorporating health equity into their communication efforts, which in turn can improve patient care and outcomes. Incorporating inclusive communications can help with ensuring equal access to public health information and services for all people, including those with disabilities, mental health and behavioral health disorders, and older adults.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the following guidance for developing inclusive communications:

  • Work with partners to identify community needs and build awareness and acceptance for the priority areas prior to developing and releasing communication products.
  • Avoid technical terms and jargon; instead, use plain language that is easy to understand.
  • Ensure all content is culturally responsive and accessible.
  • Make sure all information is available in a variety of formats that meet the needs of the community (for example: audio, video, braille or large-print formats, visual/graphic imagery).
  • Consider the use of images and that they represent people of different genders, abilities, and races or ethnicities.
  • All materials should be translated for target audiences and then should be reviewed by someone fluent in the language.

What to avoid when developing inclusive communications:

  • Avoid stereotypes.
  • Avoid using images that propagate unhealthy body images.
  • Avoid using caricatures of any racial or ethnic minority group.

Resources to Learn More

Health Equity Symposia: Health Literacy and Systemic Racism
Discusses racial and ethnic health literacy disparities, health information accessibility and equity, and best practices and solutions for clear communication. Describes the advocacy efforts of the Health Literacy Subcommittee at OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond.
Author(s): Coleman, C., Sebring, L.
Organization(s): Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU)
Date: 9/2016

Health Literacy and Health Equity: Connecting the Dots
Provides information and resources on the importance of health literacy and health equity in various populations.
Organization(s): Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP)