Health Literacy and Plain Language Review Service

What is the Health Literacy and Plain Language (HLPL) Review Service?

The Health Literacy and Plain Language Review Service is a free service provided to faculty, staff and students to help revise and tailor your written materials to meet the average adult’s health literacy needs.

Health literacy is a growing concern for both providers and researchers. Nearly half of American adults read at between a 7th- and 8th-grade reading level, but health information is often delivered at a 10th-grade level or higher1. The numbers aren’t any better when it comes to research; the average informed consent document is written at an 11th-grade reading level or higher2.

Research shows the use of plain language and health literacy principles can increase research participation, improve adherence, and overall, can lead to better health outcomes. We can help!

What types of materials can I submit to the HLPL Review Service?

The HLPL Review Service can assist with a wide variety of documents including:

  • Study recruitment materials including consent forms
  • Data collection instruments
  • Website text for patients and study participants
  • Posters and handouts for reporting research results back to the community
  • Patient-information materials and handouts

Who has access to the HLPL services?

Washington University School of Medicine faculty, staff, and students may request assistance through the program.

How do I submit something for review?

To submit your document(s) for review, please email Mychal Voorhees directly with attachments. Microsoft Office documents are preferred, but other file formats may be acceptable. If you’d prefer to meet in-person, please send us an email.

When can I expect my materials?

The review service is provided on a first come, first served basis. Once your materials are submitted, you will receive a follow-up email within two to three business days with more information, including an expected timeline for turnaround.

Contact Mychal Voorhees at 314-362-4734 or to learn more.



  1. National Center for Education Statistics. (2002). Adult literacy in America. (NCES Publication No. 1993-275). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
  2. Paasche-Orlow, M.K., Taylor, H.A., & Brancati, F.L.  (2003). Readability standards for informed consent forms as compared with actual readability. New England Journal of Medicine, 348, 721-726.