217808 Health literacy online: A guide to writing and designing easy-to-use health web sites

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 2:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Stacy Robison, MPH, CHES , Communicate Health, Northampton, MA
Sandra Williams Hilfiker, MA , CommunicateHealth Inc., Northampton, MA
Sean Arayasirikul, PhD Student , Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Oakland, CA
Linda Harris, PhD, Lead , Health Communication and eHealth Team, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, US Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, MD
More Americans are going online than ever before. According to a 2006 survey, 80 percent of Internet users have looked for health information on the Web.1 As a result, both public and private institutions are using the Internet to streamline the delivery of health information and connect people and services in exciting new ways. Yet the transition to online health information and services poses a unique set of challenges for Web users with limited literacy skills or limited experience on the Internet. For many of these users, the Web is stressful and overwhelming—even inaccessible. Much of this stress is the result of complex health content and poorly designed Web sites.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) has developed a research-based how-to guide for creating health Web sites and Web content for the millions of Americans with limited literacy skills and limited experience using the Web. The strategies in this guide complement accepted principles of good Web design and thus have the potential to improve the online experience for all users, regardless of literacy skills. Drawing on experience with healthfinder.gov, this presentation will synthesize lessons learned from ODPHP's original research with more than 700 Web users recruited from community settings likely to serve people with limited literacy and health literacy skills, including federally funded community health centers. Research methods used in the iterative design of www.healthfinder.gov include focus groups, interviews, card sort studies, task analysis, and usability testing.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify six strategies for writing and designing easy-to-use health web sites. 2. Describe how iterative, user-centered design can be used as a quality improvement tool. 3. Identify strategies to evaluate the design and content of health web sites.

Keywords: Health Literacy, Internet

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I was a lead author of the HHS guide Health Literacy Online. I have spent the last five years developing and testing plain language content for health Web sites.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.