314-725-3711 | Since 1998

By Melissa Wurst

blackish episode historical reasons on not going to the doctorI was watching an episode of the TV show “Blackish” last night and it started off with Dre talking about why some black people don’t go to the doctor. He was talking about his parent’s generation.  My health literacy interests were peaked.  I knew that there were historical reasons that influenced whether African Americans trusted in doctors and would go to a doctor and this show was going to talk about them. By the way, Anthony, the actor who plays Dre on Blackish has a real health condition – diabetes – and is a spokesperson for Novo Nordisk.


We were aware of this and spoke about this with our Health Literacy writers when we wrote “Your Pregnancy Guide” and were addressing the issue of why some people don’t go for prenatal visits or have certain medical tests done to avoid a preterm birth.  helth literacy pregnancy bookHere…a TV show was addressing it as well. Historical considerations are used in health literacy strategies when writing content and also when doing subsequent translations for healthcare communications.


Historical considerations to consider in health literacy strategies

So what are the historical considerations for African Americans? The Tuskegee syphilis experiment on African American soldiers in Alabama began in 1932 and ran until 1972. The effects of this have impacted one’s trust in doctors.  That mistrust can also be passed down from generation to generation.  This coupled with segregation in healthcare and a lack of doctors that would treat African Americans also influence their perception toward healthcare.tuskegee syphilis experiment

It’s important to learn about cultural factors that shape one’s behavior and thoughts with healthcare.  This is part of cultural competency. Who is it important for beside the patient? It’s for the doctor that treats the patient, the pharmacist that talks to the patient on the phone or in the store about their medication or their illness, the nurse, the healthcare agency that creates educational or marketing material for their pharma clients and the managed care organization that also creates member material…such as the Pregnancy book above.

Health Literacy strategies used in writing educational materials encompass cultural and historical factors such as this. Working in English content allows us to be involved in the whole content lifecycle and development of healthcare materials that will be translated.

healthcare translations of pregnancy book excerptWe share that training with our healthcare translators so that they fully understand the strategies that are used in the source English writing. Our Health Literacy Division has expert writers in the field with over 25 years of experience and healthcare communications are one of our main verticals of expertise.

We work with healthcare communication agencies, managed care organizations, healthplans, pharmacy benefit managers and pharmaceutical companies.  Contact us about your specific needs – English writing, healthcare translations or both!