What To Learn About the Audience for a Health Care Quality Report
You could learn many things about your audience, including:
- Physical characteristics.
- Demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.
- Behavioral and cultural characteristics.
- Psychological characteristics.
- Health care needs.
- Information needs.
However, most sponsors of quality report cards don’t have the time or the resources to gather and process this much information. Moreover, given the likelihood of wide variations even within seemingly homogeneous groups, it can be difficult to know what to do with the information you get.
To help you decide which kinds of information to pursue, this page discusses how you can use information about a handful of key traits to produce a more effective report.
Age and Health Status
Generally speaking, people who are older and/or in poor health are:
- More likely than others to have an intense interest in information about health care.
- More likely to be familiar with health care terminology.
- More motivated to use information on quality.
Retirees also tend to have the time to read things carefully, so they may be more receptive to thorough explanations and detailed examples. However, studies indicate that some older audiences have substantially lower literacy skills, which can affect their ability to understand, interpret, and use the information in a quality report card. For instance, because of the complexity of the cognitive task, some older audiences may have a harder time keeping track of multiple pieces of data.
Language, Culture, and Ethnicity
All reports on quality should be written using plain English so that the contents are understandable to as many people as possible. (Read Tips on Writing a Quality Report.)
Also, your report should demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the various cultural norms, values, assumptions, and expectations of your target audience(s). As you learn about the ethnic and racial groups in your intended audience, try to identify their information needs and consider how you will both meet those needs and explain information that may be very new to them. Recent immigrants, for example, may struggle with the language as well as the graphic presentations.
To learn more about making materials culturally appropriate, go to Tips on Writing a Quality Report.
Finally, when gathering information about your audience, you may learn that a significant segment is more comfortable receiving information in another language. There may be an opportunity to reach more readers by providing translated information.
Income and Education
People from different socioeconomic groups may have different priorities. Those with lower incomes, for instance, may feel unable to consider factors beyond the costs of coverage. As a result, information about quality could seem irrelevant to them. Report sponsors can help bridge that gap by communicating the message that people don’t have to pay more to get higher quality care.
Education levels are relevant because they are related to the ability to comprehend and interpret complicated information. Your assessment of how well your audience can process information will influence not only what you can say about quality, but also the quantity of information you include and the ways in which you present data.