about Literacy & Health
People with low health literacy:
A. Health literacy is
related to overall literacy. Nearly 45 percent of Americans can't carry
basic literacy tasks, such as identifying
a specific location on a map or reading a table about blood pressure.
A. When you use “plain language,” you speak or write in a way that your audience can understand information the first time they read your writing or hear what you say.
A. You won’t need to, if you follow two simple steps, say literacy experts. First, after giving health care instructions, ask your patient, “Was I clear? Is there some part I should go over again?” This makes it clear that you, the provider, are responsible for making the message clear, and that your patient has a right to such clarity. Second, to check for comprehension, try a “teachback.” Say something like, “Now, just to be sure we are on the same page, why don’t you show me what you would do when …” These two steps will help assure clear communication and understanding with every patient, and not just those you think might have low health literacy.
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America's Health Literacy: Why We Need Accessible Health Information summarizes key findings and presents some policy implications of the first ever National Assessment of Adult Literacy.
Is Our Pharmacy Meeting Patients' Needs? A Pharmacy Health Literacy Assessment Tool User's Guide. An assessment tool that includes an evaluation program to be completed by an outside auditor, a survey for pharmacy staff and a guide for patient focus groups. Produced by the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Strategies to Improve Communication between Pharmacy Staff and Patients: A Training Program for Pharmacy Staff. Features informative slides and resources that pharmacies can use to hold small group discussions among staff, lead role playing scenarios, and conduct question and answer sessions. Produced by the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Quick Guide to Health Literacy: Learn what professionals can do to improve health literacy among adults from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s web site.
What Did the Doctor Say? Improving Health Literacy to Protect Patient Safety: Report from the Joint Commission explains how effective communication is a cornerstone of patient safety.
Plain Language Guide: A federal government guide for writing “reader friendly” documents.
Talking the Talk: Improving Patient-Provider Communication: Easy to digest tips from the Macarthur Foundation’s Center for the Advancement of Health about health literacy and resources.
Minnesota Health Literacy Partnership:
Networking group that meets monthly in Saint Paul to discuss health literacy
issues and programs. Publishes quarterly issue briefs online.
How would you know I can't read?
Low literacy affects many people, regardless of class or education level. Guessing is no substitute for asking. Learn how and why to communicate clearly.