Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Clear Communication Index

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014). CDC Clear Communication Index. A Tool for Developing and Assessing CDC Public Communication Products. Retrieved from Organization website:

Template available Evaluated/validated


This index applies research-based criteria to appraise and create plain language public communication.

Steps for Using Method/Tool

Prior to using the index, users should obtain four key pieces of information:

  1. Who is the primary audience?
  2. What do you know about the health literacy skills of the audience?
  3. What is the primary communication objective?
  4. What is the main message of the material?

The tool includes four open-ended questions with 20 scored questions organized into four categories:

  • Core
  • Behaviour
  • Numbers
  • Risk

A final score is assigned upon completion.


Baur, C., & Prue, C. (2014). The CDC Clear Communication Index is a new evidence-based tool to prepare and review health information. Health Promotion Practice, 15(5), 629–637.

These summaries are written by the NCCMT to condense and to provide an overview of the resources listed in the Registry of Methods and Tools and to give suggestions for their use in a public health context. For more information on individual methods and tools included in the review, please consult the authors/developers of the original resources.

We have provided the resources and links as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by McMaster University of any of the products, services or opinions of the external organizations, nor have the external organizations endorsed their resources and links as provided by McMaster University. McMaster University bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external sites.

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