Implementation of an organisational wide approach to improving policy documents using plain language: A case study

Publication Name

Australian Health Review


The impact of poorly written policies in healthcare is enormous, with the potential for significant economic and personal costs. Our local health district embarked on a major revision of policy document development that sought to reframe the process of policy development using health literacy principles. This included mandatory policy development changes that require policy to be written in plain language, at a readability level of grade 10-12. Staff training in plain language writing was undertaken. Consumer and staff feedback was incorporated in policy development. Four elements were critical to this process: effective leadership, effective instruction, practical support, and evidence-driven decisions. Staff responses to the revised processes were overwhelmingly positive and resulted in improved policy readability. The involvement of consumers in policy development has evolved. From this study, we have learned how to improve the governance of policy documents. It is possible for health literacy principles to be embedded in the development and revision of these documents.

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