Difficult Language – level 3

27-08-2020 07:00

A new US research study shows that state public health agencies and websites are using overly complicated language to talk about COVID-19.

For some people, medical COVID-19-related terms like ’fomites’, ’quarantine’ or ’infection could be hard to immediately understand. Public health information should be for a 6th to 8th grade reading level and government communication should be clear; however, out of all fifty US states, none of them had public information about COVID-19 written at an appropriate level.

Scientists say that complicated wording can impact communities with lower health literacy, and potentially worsen the effects of the pandemic. It also leaves nurses and doctors to combat confusion among patients. An executive at Northwestern Medicine’s Huntley Hospital said that her hospital used analogies, pictures and thorough conversations to help patients. She said that above all, it was about meeting patients and their families at their level.

Difficult words: fomite (an object that may be contaminated with infectious agents), literacy (the ability to read and write and understand many things), analogy (a comparison between one thing and another, based on similarity between them).

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