Health Literacy Saves Lives

In the 1950s, thousands of people died annually and tens of thousands were paralyzed by polio. People celebrated and embraced the science that developed the vaccine that quickly eradicated that disease in the U.S. But COVID-19 has produced an entirely different public reaction and health policy experts are wrestling with understanding why. We’ve seen evidence for years that explaining and helping people understand and engage in almost any complex public policy issue is getting increasingly difficult. People seek simple explanations to difficult problems and, regardless of how crazy the answer may be, demons and conspiracies almost always make for the simplest and most digestible explanation. The burden of translating and communicating these complex problems and solutions is on us.

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