What Star Wars Teaches Us About Health Literacy

Illustration of Star Wars characters Chewbacca, Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Leia, and BB8 looking at a lightsaber, while Darth Vader looks on sadly from across the room.

[Editor’s note: We have a few hardcore Star Wars nerds here at We ❤ Health Literacy headquarters and their enthusiasm in these final days before the release of The Force Awakens has gotten unbearable. In an effort to distract them, we’ve given them this week’s post — sincere apologies to all you non-Star Wars lovers out there.]

The wisdom of Star Wars has been applied to just about everything — from religion to psychology to philosophy. So why not health literacy? Drop your blasters and get some health literacy tips from a galaxy far, far away.

Have a clear main message. Remember the good Star Wars movies? About those kids who fight evil and save the galaxy? That clarity worked. The ones about the trade embargo that is actually just a ruse disguising a power play by the senator from Naboo, who secretly is — well, those didn’t work quite as well.

Test (and retest) your materials. Clearly, the Empire needed to do more prototype testing. How else can we explain the obvious flaws in the construction of the Death Star’s thermal exhaust port and reactor? You know, the ones that got it blown up — twice?

Use plain language. Think about all the famous Star Wars quotes: “May the Force be with you,” “I am your father,” and “Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi — you’re my only hope.” Simple and direct. And sure, technically they’re called All Terrain Armored Transports, but everyone calls them walkers. Always use language that regular people use.

Cut everything that’s not essential. As it turned out, Luke did just fine without that hand.

Keep it simple. Did you see Yoda living in a splendid palace befitting his status as the greatest Jedi in the galaxy, pampered by Rodian and Twi’lek servants? Nope — dude is living solo in a boggy tree trunk. If ever a Muppet embodied the principles of simplicity, it’s him. (Just don’t write like Yoda — know what we mean, you do, hmm?)

The bottom line: May the Force be with you, health literacy fans. And let’s hope Episode VII is one of the good ones.


Browse recent posts

Do you heart health literacy? We sure do! Sign up to get practical health literacy tips and tricks — delivered to your inbox every week.