Toward population health literacy, wellbeing, consumer engagement, and information exchange: Developing Omaha System icons for digital platforms

Karen A. Monsen, Barbara Martinson, Emily C. Lawrence, Taylor A. Maki, Annika E. Stromme, Elizabeth G. Weirich, Karen S. Martin


In the digital age, it is critical for both healthcare professionals and consumers to electronically express, receive, and processimportant health information. This is especially true for populations with language barriers and low literacy. Visual literacy andhealth literacy enable optimal health communication and wellbeing. A standardized interface terminology is a linguistic tool thatcan be used to convey health information at the human-computer interface. The Omaha System has been evaluated and foundto be a promising standard for use as a simple, standardized terminology that may promote health literacy and communicationbetween healthcare professionals and consumers. However, a method for visually representing health concepts described by theOmaha System has not been developed. The purpose of this study was to develop a complete set of 42 icons that convey themeaning of each of the 42 Omaha System problem concepts as defined by Martin (2005). Design thinking, universal designmethods, and informal survey evaluations were used to determine appropriate imagery for the icons. Data-based revisions wereincorporated after each of three informal survey evaluations. The resulting set of 42 icons for Omaha System problem concepts isavailable in the public domain. Future plans are to conduct extensive global evaluation of concept validity and usefulness of theicons across literacy levels.

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International Journal of Healthcare  ISSN 2377-7338(Print)  ISSN 2377-7346(Online)

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