1. Harris, Marilyn MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

Article Content

Have you ever written a Letter to the Editor of a professional journal in response to: the editor's editorial content; an author who shared a new procedure that could benefit your home healthcare patients; or to agree or disagree with an author's viewpoint? I raise these questions in response to an editorial by Maureen Anthony, editor of Home Healthcare Now (HHN)-Say "Yes" in 2017 (Anthony, 2017). Maureen challenged each of us to get out of our comfort zone. Writing a letter to the editor in 2017 may meet this challenge.


The January 2017 issue of HHN included articles on infusion therapy standards of practice, integrating preventive cardiovascular healthcare into home health, driving safety for persons with dementia, handwashing products used by the home care patient and their caregivers, plus more. Do you have positive or negative comments or additional suggestions on one or more of these topics that would benefit other home healthcare clinicians? Writing a Letter to the Editor lets the editor know that the professional information that is shared in each issue is helpful to the reader. When a specific author's article shares new or improved information that you can use, and you mentioned this in your letter, it is welcome feedback to the author and the editor.


The Letters to the Editor section of a journal can serve as a forum where all readers can voice their concerns and opinions about the various topics covered in a journal. Journals can benefit from your critical thinking skills and your engaged interactions with the topics in the journal. A Letter to the Editor allows you to contribute to healthcare discussions, and sometimes, your comments and opinions help shape the thoughts and practice of other clinicians. If an article made a particular point you want to support (or take issue with), or if you have additional information about the topic that you think could strengthen (or refute) points made in an article, bringing these to the attention of the editor, author, and readers through a Letter to the Editor makes a contribution to the journal and its readers.


A search for Writing an Effective Letter to the Editor produces multiple sample letters and guidelines. In general, suggestions include:


* Respond to an article you read


* Follow directions. These may be found under the "Contact Us" area on a journal's Web site.


* Be timely. Editors work months in advance so your letter written within a few days of a new issue of HHN will not be published for several months based on the production schedule.


* Share your expertise


* Keep your letter short, focused, and interesting


* Write in your own words-be original


* Include your contact information: name, address, phone number, and email address


* Write to the editor by name (journals list the editor's name at the beginning of the journal)



There are several benefits of writing to the editor:


* Your letter will reach several thousand subscribers in the United States and other countries


* The editor knows your name, contact information, and your area of expertise and may contact you for a manuscript, commentary (Harris, 2012), or to become a reviewer (Harris, 2016)


* You see your name in a referred journal and other clinicians with similar interests may contact you for additional information or to share their experiences



I encourage each reader to accept Maureen Anthony's challenge and say "Yes" to being involved in 2017.




Anthony M. (2017). Editorial: Say "yes" in 2017. Home Healthcare Now, 35(1), 5-6. [Context Link]


Harris M. (2012). A Commentary on the Commentary: This is your opportunity to share your stories about what makes home healthcare and hospice special! Home Healthcare Now, 30(10), 622-623. [Context Link]


Harris M. (2016). Considered becoming a manuscript reviewer? Home Healthcare Now, 34(1), 52. [Context Link]