During Health Literacy Awareness Month, we are shining a light on some of our outstanding consultants who don’t just breathe life into content, but crucially, make it readable, understandable and actionable for the people it’s designed to reach.
Meet Anneliese Levy and find out how seeing people’s struggles to understand and manage their health while working in the NHS, inspired her to specialise in health literacy to improve healthcare access and experience.
1. What does health literacy mean to you in 10 words or less?
A tool for removing health inequalities and improving healthcare access.
2. What drove you to specialise in health literacy in the first place?
I started my career in the NHS working first in audiology and then in speech and language therapy.
I saw first-hand the barriers people faced to getting good health and wellbeing support when they had communication difficulties, disabilities or because of ageing.
When I started working in the charity sector, I became more aware of health inequalities: since then, I have had a passion for communications and research projects that focus on health literacy.
I see that as part of an approach to improving healthcare access and experience.
3. What is the most common health literacy mistake you see in published health information?
Use of complicated visuals. People think that using an infographic can be a helpful way to simplify things.
It can, but often the infographics used can be very complicated in themselves, especially when they involve numbers.
It is important to keep visuals simple, clearly labelled and ensure users are consulted.
4. What are your top three tips for good health literacy?
- Consult your audience
- But don’t just speak to ‘the usual suspects’ – make sure you are broadening the range of people you consult. Include people from backgrounds that may be underrepresented.
- It’s not just about written materials. Are there different formats, channels or interventions that would better reach your audience?
5. What health literacy project have you worked on that you are most proud of?
I have worked on quite a few projects that I am proud of. One that stands out is a recent piece of research I did for the Royal Osteoporosis Society (ROS).*
I interviewed people with limited health literacy about their knowledge of osteoporosis, and information and support needs.
I spoke with people on low incomes, with disabilities such as sight loss, as well as those with English as a second language.
The insight gathered will be used to help the charity refine their communications and services to make sure they are meeting the needs of all people who may be living with or are at risk of bone health problems.
I think the ROS is a great example of an organisation investing in the right kind of in-depth work to address the needs of all their audiences.
It was also a real privilege to meet and find out more about all the participants and their lives.
* A non-TDC project
Anneliese is a health communications and research consultant, who has spent most of her career in the non-profit sector. Aside from juggling work and two small children she loves vintage clothes, podcasts about cults and reading poetry! A bit of light relief from often intense health-focused projects.
The Difference Collective is a group of health literacy experts, communicators and healthcare strategists. Get in touch to discuss how we can help you look at your organisation’s approach to health literacy and help you produce better health information.