Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices

Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, M.A., M.S.
Posted June 02, 2015

Background

“Time to Talk Tips” is one of the resources in the “Time to Talk Campaign,” managed by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Like any health-related decision, your decision about whether to use complementary health practices is central to your health and safety. Yet, information you find on the Web is not always specific to your illness or based on scientific evidence.

The NIH monthly consumer-friendly series, “Time to Talk Tips,” discusses specific health topics, together with the scientific evidence related to those topics. The series is designed to encourage you and your medical doctors or other healthcare providers to talk about any complementary practice that you are considering.

Examples of “Time to Talk Tips”

Each month, the series highlights a health topic. For example, topics include “Natural Products for the Flu and Colds,” and “What Consumers Need to Know about the Use of Dietary Supplements.”

The series includes simple tips, such as, taking vitamin C regularly does not reduce the likelihood of getting a cold, but may improve some cold symptoms, and some dietary supplements may interact with prescription or over-the-counter medications or other dietary supplements.

Sometimes, a health topic targets a specific health condition, such as “Six Things You Need to Know about Cancer and Complementary Health Approaches , or, “Five Things to Know about Sleep Disorders and Complementary Health Approaches.”

The consumer tips accompany topics found in the NCCIH Clinical Digest for Health Professionals, which is a monthly e-newsletter for medical doctors and other healthcare providers. The Clinical Digest addresses the state of science on complementary health practices for a variety of health conditions.

 How to Make “Time to Talk Tips” Work for You

The same topics that are found in the NCCIH Clinical Digest and the “Time to Talk Tips” are discussed in monthly Twitter chats, allowing you, as a member of the public, to interact with NCCIH Information Specialists, to ask questions, and to receive answers in real time.

The NCCIH “Time to Talk Tips” monthly series on complementary health practices was started in 2012. If you access the NCCIH website, “Time to Talk Tips on Complementary Health Practices,” on a regular basis, you can see the list of tips grow, from month to month.

Stay informed in the following ways:

Resources for Patients from the National Institutes of Health

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

References

 National Institutes of Health. National Cancer Institute. Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM).
(Accessed May 24, 2015)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. NCCIH Clearinghouse.
(Accessed May 03, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. NCCIH Clinical Digest.
(Accessed May 23, 2015)

National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. NCCIH E-Mail Us – Submit a Question or Comment.
(Accessed May 24, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. NCCIH Live Chats with Experts.(Accessed May 24, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. NCCIH Time to Talk Home Page.
(Accessed May 24, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “NIH Launches Consumer-Friendly Tips Series on Complementary Health Practices.” NIH News. March 06, 2012.
(Accessed May 03, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Time to Talk. “Time to Talk Tips.”
(Accessed May 24, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS).
(Accessed May 24, 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Medline Plus.
(Accessed My 24, 2015)

 

Plain Language for Consumer Health

Plain Language for Consumer Health

Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, M.A., M.S.
Posted April 30, 2015

Plain Writing Act

On October 13, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Plain Writing Act of 2010 (H.R. 946/Public Law 111-274). This law requires federal government agencies to write communication materials for the public in easy-to-understand language. For example, federal government agencies must write federal tax returns and Veterans Administration forms in plain language.

Consumer health information from the federal government must also be written in plain language. For example, the National Institutes of Health , which is the nation’s medical research agency, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a good place to start, to find consumer health information written in plain language.

What is Plain Language?

Plain language, also called, “plain English,” is defined by results. Plain language is easy for you to read, to understand, and to use. Plain language respects the reader. Using plain language avoids creating barriers that set you apart from the persons with whom you are communicating. Using plain language also saves time and money.

Plain language tells you what you need to know, without using unnecessary words. For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services took a six-page article and replaced it with a single, fold-out brochure, conveying the same information. Here is an excerpt:

Before

“The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a half hour or more of moderate physical activity on most days, preferably every day. The activity can include brisk walking, calisthenics, home care, gardening, moderate sports exercise, and dancing.”

After

“Do at least 30 minutes of exercise, like brisk walking, most days of the week.”

 Health Literacy

The federal government Plain Language website includes web pages titled, “Popular Topics: Improving Health Literacy,” which includes a section called, “Federal Agency Links about Health Literacy.”

Literacy is defined as the ability to read and write. The Plain Language web pages suggest that you think of literacy as the ability to understand and communicate information. In this context, it is useful to think of health literacy as the ability to understand and communicate health information.

When you read health communication materials written in plain language, you are developing your health literacy.

When you talk to your medical doctors or when you search for health information at a library or on the Internet, ask three questions:

  • What is my main problem?
  • What do I need to do?
  • Why is it important for me to do this?

The goal of plain language in health is to give you reliable, science-based information, so you can make informed decisions about staying healthy and seeking medical care.

 NIH News in Health

Federal government agencies have well-researched information that has been vigorously reviewed by scientists and medical doctors.

For example, NIH News in Health, a monthly newsletter from the National Institutes of Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is reviewed by NIH medical experts and based on research conducted either by NIH scientists or by NIH grantees at universities and medical schools across the country.

 For a free subscription, see the “About” page of NIH News in Health.

 References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Health Literacy. “Plain Language: Develop Materials.”
(Accessed 13 April 2015)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Health Literacy. Plain Language Health Literacy Training. Lesson 3 Applying Health Literacy to Practice. “Plain Language and Effective Health Messages.”
(Accessed 14 April 2015)

 Food and Drug Administration. Plain Language. “Plain Language Principles.”
(Accessed 13 April 2015)

 Food and Drug Administration. “Plain Writing: It’s the Law!”
(Accessed 13 April 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. NIH News in Health. A monthly newsletter from the National Institutes of Health. “About NIH News in Health.”
(Accessed 30 April 2015)

 National Institutes of Health. NIH News in Health. A monthly newsletter from the National Institutes of Health. “Sharing Reliable Health Information: 10 Years of NIH News in Health.” April 2015.
(Accessed 25 April 2015)

National Institutes of Health. “Plain Language at NIH.”
(Accessed 13 April 2015)

Plain Language dot gov. Improving Communication from the Federal Government to the Public. “Document Checklist for Plain Language.”
(Accessed 13 April 2015)

Plain Language dot gov. Improving Communication from the Federal Government to the Public. “Popular Topics: Improving Health Literacy.”
(Accessed 13 April 2015)

 Plain Language dot gov. Improving Communication from the Federal Government to the Public. Plain Language: Before and After — Losing Weight HHS Brochure. “Public Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services. Brochure.”
(Accessed 13 April 2015)

Plain Language dot gov. Improving Communication from the Federal Government to the Public. “The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN).
(Accessed 13 April 2015)

 Plain Language dot gov. Improving Communication from the Federal Government to the Public. “What is Plain Language?”
(Accessed 13 April 2015)

 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Health Literacy Fact Sheet: Health Literacy Basics. “Quick Guide to Health Literacy.”
(Accessed 14 2015)

 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “Plain Language: A Promising Strategy for Clearly Communicating Health Information and Improving Health Literacy.”
(Accessed 14 April 2015)