At Healthline, we’re on a mission to provide you with high-quality information about your health and well-being. As part of this mission, we’re committed to using Conscious Language.
On this page, we’re sharing how we define Conscious Language, why it matters to us, as well as what it looks like in action across our publications.
What is Conscious Language?
We define Conscious Language as the intentional use of words and terms to create empathetic, inclusive, and non-stigmatizing content. We are thoughtful in how we phrase and frame health topics so we do not perpetuate bias that can contribute to health inequities and stigma.
Conscious Language is not political correctness, nor is it about limiting what people can say. Instead, Conscious Language is about expanding representation and being intentional with our words, always with the goal of helping you improve your health.
Why we prioritize Conscious Language at Healthline
We’re here to inspire you to live your healthiest life, and we recognize that the words we use have an impact on your well-being. Using empathetic language ensures that we are inclusive and compassionate. If we don’t choose our words intentionally, we run the risk of misrepresenting people, stigmatizing conditions, and shaming those living with them. As a result, we use Conscious Language to ensure our content reflects the most representative terminology and framing.
Our readers are on a journey to health and well-being, and we want to be right there with you — every step of the way, no matter who you are. And we are showing the world how we do that in the hope that we can unite against stereotypes, discrimination, and harmful health narratives.
Having a deep understanding of the lived experiences of our audience and being intentional in our words, phrasing, and framing ensures that our content meets the needs of all our readers.
When we are able to speak directly to your lived experience, we are able to be relevant, empathetic, and inclusive, all of which allows us to provide more individually actionable information to build a stronger, healthier world.
What Conscious Language looks like in action
Here at Healthline, we use Person-first Language, Identity-first Language, and Empathy-first Language when we talk about health conditions. We use Person-first Language as standard, but acknowledge and respect that some communities may prefer Identity-first Language.
In addition, we believe Empathy-first Language goes beyond Person-first or Identity-first Language to include phrasing and framing of health topics in a way that promotes empathy, avoids stigma, and does not promote bias.
Person-first Language sees the person before the condition, acknowledging that a health condition does not define a person. It’s something they have, not their identity.
These foods may be beneficial for diabetics.
Using Person-first Language, we say:
These foods may be beneficial for people living with diabetes.
We also use Identity-first Language, which acknowledges that some conditions are inextricably linked to who a person is and cannot be separated from who they are. We use Identity-first Language when the community has clearly identified that this is the language they prefer.
A person with deafness may use assistive devices.
Using Identity-first Language, we say:
A deaf person may use assistive devices.
Alongside Person-first Language and Identity-first Language, we use Empathy-first Language that promotes empathy, avoids stigma, and does not promote bias.
They were infected with HIV.
Using Empathy-first Language, we say:
They contracted HIV.
Replacing “infected” with “contracted” removes a negative connotation that may stigmatize people living with HIV.
Here’s another example:
Being African American is a risk factor for stroke.
Instead, we say:
There is a higher incidence of stroke among African Americans. Reasons for this may include social and environmental factors as well as inequities in healthcare.
A final word on Conscious Language
Our readers are on a journey with their health and well-being, and we want to be right there with you — every step of the way, no matter who you are.
Conscious Language is about expanding representation and being intentional with our words, always with the goal of helping you improve your health. At Healthline, we use Conscious Language to ensure we are using framing and phrasing that is most likely to provide actionable information.
Person-first Language sees the person before the condition, acknowledging that a condition is not who a person is. It’s something they have, not their identity. We use Identity-first Language when the community has clearly identified that this is the language they prefer. We use Empathy-first Language that promotes empathy, avoids stigma, and does not promote bias.
Finally, we acknowledge Conscious Language is constantly evolving. We are committed to actively listening to our communities, readers, and health advocates to continuously update and refine our use of language.
Click here to learn more about Heathline’s approach to content integrity, including our high standards for medical accuracy and editorial quality.