“In testing the questions on others, Parker realized that a lot of people don’t know that the new H1N1 and swine flu are one and the same. If she didn’t call it swine flu, a lot of people didn’t know what she was talking about.”
The observation came from health literacy expert Ruth Parker of Emory University. She’s been working on a creating a series of questions that people can answer about their own health to determine whether or not they should go to the emergency room.
Mr. Chapman, the assistant professor of family and consumer sciences at North Carolina University also found that scientific jargon clouds the overall message health officials are trying to disseminate:
“For example,” he says, “don’t refer to something as a ‘gastrointestinal illness.’ Instead tell them, ‘This could make you puke,’ or ‘Dude, wash your hands.'”