Health writing: trigger words to avoid

Let’s start with a trigger word is.

A trigger word, to me at least, is one that makes you feel doubt, fear or negative thoughts.

These include words like:

  • Serious
  • Severe
  • Risk

For those that know me, these are the top 3 words I delete and write over in any health content I check.

Why do I have this approach? It’s to reduce any sense of panic in the reader.

I like to pretend that the person I am writing for is sitting in front of me and I am speaking these words to them.

I keep this at the forefront of my mind. So here is an exercise for you:

Read this sentence: ‘Your risk of contracting a serious hepatitis A infection is very low’

First, how easy was that to read or understand? Second, how did it make you feel to read the words ‘risks’ and ‘serious’?

Now how would you rewrite this sentence so you still get the message across without making the reader feel stressed?

My suggestion would be: ‘The chances of you getting a hepatitis A infection is very low. There is an even smaller chance that a hepatitis A infection will affect your general wellbeing in the long run.’

Would you agree that this is a softer approach? It gives you a sense of calm, so you know that if you do get hepatitis A, you’re more than likely to be able to manage it and live your life as normal.

Which is true. It’s the other types of hepatitis that can make you much more ill. (See how I avoided the use of the word ‘serious’ in that sentence?)

I hope you’ve found this small, but very useful, tip helpful.

Now go check your work for any negative triggers and remove them, unless there are no other words you can choose from to get your message across 🙂

[This article has a reading age of grade 4 on hemingwaypp, which makes it easy to read.]

[This article has an Admiring 5points, Confident 4points, Optimistic 2points Tone detector rating on Grammarly.]

Published by Virginia Chachati

I am a UK GPhC registered Pharmacist from London. I love to write easy to understand health and wellness content. My goal is to help empower people to better their own health.

2 thoughts on “Health writing: trigger words to avoid

  1. Hey Virginia,

    Arya here, hope you are healthy and doing good✨

    I loved this article on ‘negative words to avoid while writing a health blog’. It really eases the reader while reading a positive blog!

    Even I try to imbibe it as much as possible in my writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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