July 24, 2024

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3 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Medical Pamphlet for Patients

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Medical Pamphlet for Patients

Communication between medical professionals and patients is key to positive outcomes in the healthcare industry. Today, many communication channels, particularly through the Internet, can ensure speedy contact. Multiple methods do not ensure that your message is getting across, however.

One time-honored communication channel is the medical pamphlet. Doctors have traditionally handed them to their patients to help explain illnesses or treatment methods. Since so many people now use the internet, these pamphlets may be sent as a PDF file or linked to a website. They are convenient ways to educate. Sadly, many of these pamphlets are ineffective due to some common mistakes. When writing a medical pamphlet, take care to avoid the following:

1- Jargon

The medical industry is full of jargon, or words known to doctors, nurses, technicians, etc. but not to the average person. Often these terms seem common to healthcare professionals but may still confuse laymen. A pamphlet that discusses a myocardial infarction would do better to use “heart attack.” “Hypertension” is not as clear to many as “high blood pressure.” A medical pamphlet needs to consider the audience’s vocabulary.

2- Advanced Vocabulary and Syntax

Those working in the medical profession generally need an advanced education with multiple degrees. As a result, they read and write at a high level. In the U.S., the average person reads at the 7th to 8th-grade level. A medical pamphlet’s vocabulary and sentence structure should reflect the audience’s reading level and not the author’s. Too often, your message is lost due to this discrepancy. Simple clear prose is the best way to convey complex material to the average person.

3- Inappropriate Tone

Taking the right tone in a medical pamphlet is a difficult task. You need to make the content understandable without talking down to the patient. The tone cannot be childish or condescending. It must be just right. Choosing the wrong tone in a pamphlet will turn off the reader and prevent them from getting the information they need

How can you determine the appropriate tone? First, you need to consider the subject matter. A pamphlet on healthy eating habits should be sincere but in certain sections, such as one on desserts, a lighter tone may be appropriate. A pamphlet on colon cancer must be serious but not too dark. Levity is not acceptable but the disease is not a death sentence either.

The medical pamphlet has been around for ages, and while its form may have changed, its purpose has not. These publications are meant to deliver educational material to patients in an easily understandable way. Creating an effective pamphlet means avoiding common mistakes that will limit their effectiveness.

Using jargon with colleagues works well and eliminates the need for explanation, but patients need more details to understand medical issues. Also, medical professionals are highly educated and tend to write at an advanced level that is hard to understand for the average person. Finally, some writers choose the wrong tone for a medical patient. They need serious answers to their questions. A well-written medical pamphlet avoids these three key mistakes.