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Health Literacy


Red Flags. Key phrases; examples 'I forgot my glasses.' 'I don't have time to read this today. ... Journal of the American Medical Association, 287: 495-501. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Health Literacy

Health Literacy
  • Presenters

  • Health literacy is the degree to which
    individuals have the capacity to obtain, process,
    and understand basic health information and
    services needed to make appropriate health
  • Healthy People 2010, Health Communication

Introduction / AMA Video
  • American Medical Associations Health Literacy
    Video (2320)
  • For a copy of this video, please visit the AMAs
    catalog, and request Health Literacy Educational
    Kit 2007

Health Literacy
National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS)
  • 26,000 U.S. adults were interviewed
  • Scored on 5 levels
  • Result 48 of U.S. population have inadequate
    (Level 1) or marginal (Level 2) literacy skills.

NALS Level 1Inadequate Literacy (21)
  • Able to
  • Sign name
  • Find a country in an article
  • Total a bank deposit entry
  • Cannot consistently
  • Understand the gist of an article
  • Use a bus schedule
  • Enter information on a Social Security application

NALS Level 2Marginal Literacy (27)
  • Able to
  • Find intersection on street map
  • Locate information in newspaper article
  • Determine difference in price on tickets
  • Cannot consistently
  • Use a bus schedule
  • Identify information from a bar graph
  • Write a brief letter of complaint

Risks of Inadequate Health Literacy
  • ½ of the U.S. population may be at risk
  • Misunderstanding
  • Mistakes
  • Excess hospitalizations
  • Poor health outcomes

What Is It Like?
  • The following passage simulates what a reader
    with low general literacy sees on the printed
  • Read the entire passage out loud.
  • You have 1 minute to read.
  • Hint The words are written backwards and the
    first word is cleaning.

What Is It Like?
  • GNINAELC Ot erussa hgih ecnamrofrep,
    yllacidoirep naelc eht epat sdaeh dna natspac
    revenehw uoy eciton na noitalumucca fo tsud dna
    nworb-der edixo selcitrap. Esu a nottoc baws
    denetsiom htiw lyporposi lohocla. Eb erus on
    lohocla sehcuot eht rebbur strap, sa ti sdnet ot
    yrd dna yllautneve kcarc eht rebbur. Esu a damp
    tholc ro egnops ot naelc eht tenibac. A dlim
    paos, ekil gnihsawhsid tnegreted, lliw pleh
    evomer esaerg ro lio.

What Is It Like?
  • How do you clean the capstan?

Factors Contributing to Health Literacy
  • Patient Factors
  • General literacy
  • Age
  • Experience with health care system
  • Cultural and language factors
  • Situational Factors
  • Complexity of information
  • How information is communicated

Health Care System Factors
  • Reliance on the written word for patient
  • Increasingly complex health system
  • More medications
  • More tests and procedures
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Growing self-care requirements
  • Less hands-on patient education

  • Problems with
  • Interactions with providers
  • Completing forms
  • Following medication instructions
  • Appointment slips
  • Informed consents
  • Discharge instructions
  • Health education materials
  • Insurance applications
  • Finding clinic/office

  • Overuse of emergency room
  • Incomplete history
  • Lack of informed consent (legal issues)
  • Diagnosis made at later stages
  • Unhealthy/risky behaviors

Informed Consent
  • Informed consent and living wills often need
    post-college level comprehension
  • Must explain verbally as well as give written
    just handing them the form to sign is not
    informed consent
  • Legal right to understand alternatives for care
    and cost of care
  • Keep it short and avoid legal jargon

  • Barriers to Access
  • Insurance forms
  • Intake forms
  • Medical history questionnaire
  • Informed consents
  • Barriers to Diagnosis
  • Patient provides mistaken information
  • Patient misunderstands physicians questions
  • Physician misunderstands patient
  • Barriers to Treatment
  • Misunderstanding of treatment directions may lead
    to serious mistakes or non-compliance

Red Flags
  • Key phrases examples
  • I forgot my glasses.
  • I dont have time to read this today.
  • Incomplete registration forms
  • Patients are non-compliant with medications
  • When asked, patient unable to explain timing or
    purpose of medication
  • Angry, slippery, clowning or passive when asked

Creating a Shame-free Environment
  • Setting must be welcoming, shame-free from moment
    patient enters
  • Think from a patient perspective, what their
    experience is like from start to finish
  • Creating this environment must include front
    staff, nurses, and other auxiliary employees

Creating a Shame-free Environment
  • Reducing Shame Practical Solutions
  • Have staff help with forms
  • Follow-up visits with phone calls
  • Pre-visit phone calls for new patients, asking
    how they prefer to receive information
  • Quality control for a patient friendly environment

Creating a Shame-free Environment
  • Make sure patients are clear
  • About their diagnoses
  • Know exactly what they need to do
  • How to take medications, possible side effects
  • Treatment regimen, follow-ups
  • Why this plan is in their best interest
  • Conduct a Medication Review
  • Sample included in worksheet packet

Creating a Shame-free Environment
  • Doctor-Patient Communication
  • Be curious, listen
  • Ask before you advise
  • Give the patient time to respond
  • Discuss how you can best help the patient care
    for themselves
  • Ask patients how they want information
    communicated to them
  • Be positive, hopeful, empowering with speech

Creating a Shame-free Environment
  • Staff-Patient Communication
  • First impressionsbig difference
  • Helpful attitude
  • Check non-verbal communication
  • Have staff call patients by name
  • Respectful, caring, safe office environment
  • Treat all patients as you would your own family
    parents, siblings, children, etc

Creating a Shame-free Environment
  • Office Strategies Office Checklist
  • What is the mood of the office?
  • What types of non-verbal communication are used
    around the office?
  • Is there a systems approach to education?
  • Are the messages created in the office consistent
    throughout the patients visit?
  • Does the staff have a genuine interest in the
    patients, their lives, and health management?

Enhancing Patient Interaction and Communication
  • Doctor Your foot infection is so severe that we
    will not be able to treat it locally.
  • Patient I hope that I dont have to travel far,
    doctor. Im afraid of flying.
  • Have you ever experienced a scenario such as

5 Steps Enhancing Patient Interaction
  • Conduct patient-centered visits
  • Listen more, speak less
  • Avoid clinical monologue
  • Encourage questions
  • Understand and address patient concerns
  • Explain in plain language
  • Slow your pace of speech
  • Use analogies, comparisons to everyday life
  • Arthritis is like a creaky hinge on a door.
  • Plain, non-medical language

5 Steps Enhancing Patient Interaction
  • Focus on key messages and repeat
  • Limit information by focusing on 1-3 key messages
    per visit
  • Review the key points, repeat several times
  • Have other staff reinforce the messages
  • Example of this in practice with Strep Throat, 3
    key messages for the patient to take away
  • Take one pill in the morning and one pill in the
  • Take the medicine every day for 10 days, even if
    you feel better before then.
  • Stopping the pills before 10 days can result in
    serious heart problems.

5 Steps Enhancing Patient Interaction
  • Use a teach back or show me technique to
    check for understanding
  • Ask the patient to demonstrate their
  • How will you explain your condition to your
  • I want to be sure I explained everything
    clearly, so can you please explain it back to me
    so I can be sure I did.
  • Do not ask Do you understand?

5 Steps Enhancing Patient Interaction
  • Use patient-friendly materials to enhance
  • Show or draw simple pictures
  • Focus on key points
  • Emphasis should be on what the patient needs to
  • Minimize information about anatomy and physiology
  • Be sensitive to cultural preferences
  • Written Material guidelines
  • Simple words (1-2 syllables)
  • Short sentences (4-6 words)
  • Short paragraphs (2-3 sentences)
  • No medical jargon
  • Headings and bullets
  • Lots of white space use large, serif fonts

Other suggestions
  • Quiet room with minimal distractions
  • Give instructions to several family members, in
    addition to the patient
  • If you are rushed, get someone else to do it
    (dont just skip or rush through)

Other Suggestions
  • Start with the most important information first
    and limit new information
  • No more than one or two instructions at a time
    and check on each as you go Chunk and Check
  • Avoid yes-or-no-questions
  • Read over instructions highlight important
    parts with color

Culturally Competent Health Care Systems
  • Interpreters or bilingual providers
  • Cultural diversity training for staff
  • Linguistically and culturally appropriate health
    education and information materials
  • Tailored healthcare setting

Use of interpreters
  • Deaf, blind or foreign language
  • Use professionals not family
  • Look at the patient, not the interpreter
  • Use simple language, avoid abstractions, similes,
    metaphors they do not translate well
  • Consult often, allow enough time
  • Schedule several patients for days when
    interpreters are available

Linguistic Competency
  • Low health literacy leads to
  • Lower health knowledge and less healthy behaviors
  • Poorer health outcomes
  • Greater health costs
  • Increased likelihood of hospitalization
  • Specific communication techniques (such as
    teach-back method) may enhance health literacy.

  • Less healthy behaviors of patients with low
  • More exposure to violence
  • Pregnant women more likely to smoke
  • Less breastfeeding
  • Less likely to get flu vaccine or pneumovax

  • Literacy is the single best predictor of health
  • Patients with low literacy were
  • 69 more likely to have late stage diagnosis of
    prostate CA at presentation (Bennet, J Clin
    Oncol, 1998).
  • 4 times more likely to be non-compliant with
    Anti-HIV meds (Kalichman S, et al. JGIM, 1999).

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