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Spotlight on TB Educational Materials

Doodles crowd around a health material saying "Behold! Health lit best practices in action!" "S..so...visual..." "The messages are so clear!" "It's so well researched I can't even..." and "Holy wow that's a lot of languages!"As you know, dear readers, we’re full of nerd love for stuff like public health books, board games, and (duh) Hamilton. But what do we ❤ the most? Health materials designed with the target audience in mind, of course. They make us weak in the knees, put stars in our eyes… and apparently even inspire us to use clichés.

That’s why we were thrilled that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) wanted to team up to create user-centered educational handouts about tuberculosis (TB) infection — and why we want to share those materials with you.

TB infection (technically known as latent TB infection or LTBI) is a critical health problem that’s often misunderstood. If it’s not treated, TB infection can turn into TB disease, which can be serious — and even deadly. So it’s super important that people at higher risk for TB infection (like refugees and immigrants) get tested for it and, if they’re diagnosed, take medicine to treat it.

Enter MDPH. Their materials take on the challenge of communicating clearly about TB infection while showcasing health literacy best practices. Here are some key takeaways from these stellar materials.

Focus on simple key messages. For example:

Use pictures and icons. Refugees and immigrants with limited English proficiency may struggle to understand text-heavy English-language materials. The MDPH handouts include illustrations that convey key messages about TB infection.

Give people tailored information. Patients who decide to get treatment for TB infection have to follow a specific treatment and medical care process. That’s why MDPH created:

Leverage research. The MDPH materials reflect target audiences’ input collected through focus groups and message and icon testing.

Address language needs. MDPH translated all messages into 17 different languages. And because refugees and immigrants with limited English proficiency reported a desire to learn English, MDPH created bilingual materials for each language.

The bottom line: Check out the MDPH TB infection educational handouts to see health literacy best practices in action!

Tweet about it: Check out @MassDPH’s user-centered educational materials on TB infection: http://bit.ly/2vabvxa #HealthLit via @CommunicateHlth

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