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Understand the key characteristics of your audience

children groupThe type of health information that is most appropriate and ‘impactful’ will be influenced by the characteristics of your target audience, including their gender, ethnicity, culture, age, disability, sexuality, lifestyle, communication needs, location, health literacy, socio-economic status, beliefs, preferences, health condition, and coping strategies.

There are a range of sources that you can use to research the characteristics of your audience:

  • Talk to your target audience themselves, and involve them in the process of planning your health information
  • Feedback from health and social care professionals, together with patient data
  • Talking to community or voluntary organisations that work with the groups you are creating health information for
  • Census data and other population studies, such as indices of deprivation
  • Public Health England
  • Social research projects
  • Geo-demographic products available commercially

Why is this important?

Effective responses to health literacy needs are those tailored to address each individual and community.

Ophelia: optimising health literacy to improve health and equity (2015) Deakin University
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Resources to support you

  • Methods for involving users: an introduction

    This resource provides an introduction to the most common methods for involving users: focus groups, online surveys, individual interviews and informal feedback.

  • Making it Real for people with sensory impairment

    Contains practical examples and identifies key messages when creating and delivering person centred services for people with sensory impairment.

  • Writing dementia friendly information
  • Enabling people with aphasia to participate in research

    People who have aphasia are often excluded from participating in research studies due to the difficulties of recruiting patients into studies with this condition. Patients, carers and researchers have expressed a wish for studies to try to include more people with communication difficulties.

    The Clinical Research Network: Stroke has worked with people with aphasia and researchers to collate existing resources and develop new materials to help researchers to enable people with aphasia to participate. These resources are freely available.

  • Health Literacy: an introduction for information producers

    This briefing aims to provide information producers with an overview of what Health Literacy is, along with some brief background data about the extent of the level of need and its impact.

  • Health Literacy Online: A Guide to Writing and Designing Easy-to-Use Health Web Sites

    This guide includes an introduction to user centred design, understanding users, writing actionable content, displaying content clearly and making your site interactive.

  • Information Accreditation Scheme Testing Phase

    The amended IPDAS scoring checklist contained here specifies that resources should describe their purpose, what they cover, and their target audience.

  • Guide to Producing Health Information for Children and Young People

    This resource aims to help anyone who communicates with children and young people about their health improve what they do, and shares practical advice as well as examples of current best practice in the field.

  • Disability Information

    This ‘quick guide’ looks at how to find information about disability, and how to produce information for and with disabled people.

  • What is social marketing?

    Introduction to social marketing with links to tools and further resources.

  • Health literacy and health inequalities

    A paper looking at the relationship between health inequality and health literacy, including a focus on specific groups: older people, children and young people, people with a long term condition, people with a mental health problem, people with learning disabilities, people in minority ethnic groups.

  • UK Association for Accessible Formats

    Accessible formats are alternatives to printed information, used by blind and partially sighted people, or others with a print impairment. These accessible formats include large print, audio, braille, electronic text, and accessible images amongst others. This website contains guidance and further resources.

  • The European Health Literacy Survey

    The European Health Literacy Project (HLS-EU) ran between 2009-2012 and increase understanding of health literacy in Europe.

  • Accessible Information Standard

    The Accessible Information Standard aims to make sure that disabled people have access to information that they can understand and any communication support they might need. All organisations that provide NHS or adult social care must follow the Accessible Information Standard by law.

  • Ophelia: Optimising health literacy to improve health and equity

    Ophelia has developed a questionnaire to identify health literacy strengths and weaknesses of individuals and communities.

  • National Numeracy

    An introduction to and facts about levels of numeracy in the UK.

  • Skills for Life Survey: headline findings

    The survey aims to produce a national profile of adult literacy, numeracy, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills, and to assess the impact that different levels of skills have on people’s lives.

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How have others done this?

View all case studies on this topic

Pauline talks about what makes information work for her