Discussion: Health literacy

Discussion: Health literacy

Discussion: Health literacy

Discussion: Health literacy

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Week 8 discussion This week’s content discussed in part barriers to health care. Health literacy is a common barrier to health care. Please review the following utube videos on health literacy and answer the following questions: IOM health literacy video. (2002). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39A9oU-gOOA Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion – Patients Health Literacy What are your initial thoughts after viewing these videos? What are some strategies you can incorporate in every day practice to assist with health literacy? Submission Details: Post your response to the Discussion Area by the due date assigned. Respond to at least two posts by the end of the week.

Health literacy is the ability to obtain, read, understand, and use healthcare information in order to make appropriate health decisions and follow instructions for treatment.[1] There are multiple definitions of health literacy,[2] in part, because health literacy involves both the context (or setting) in which health literacy demands are made (e.g., health care, media, internet or fitness facility) and the skills that people bring to that situation.[3]

Since health literacy is a primary contributing factor to health disparities, it is a continued and increasing concern for health professionals. The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) conducted by the US Department of Education found that 36% of participants scored as either “basic” or “below basic” in terms of their health literacy and concluded that approximately 80 million Americans have limited health literacy.[4] These individuals have difficulty with common health tasks including reading the label of a prescribed drug.[5] Several factors may influence health literacy. However, the following factors have been shown to strongly increase this risk: age (especially patients 65 years and older), limited English language proficiency or English as a second language, less education, and lower socioeconomic status. Patients with low health literacy understand less about their medical conditions and treatments and overall report worse health status.[6]

Various interventions, such as simplifying information and illustrations, avoiding jargon, using “teach-back” methods, and encouraging patients’ questions, have improved health behaviors in persons with low health literacy. The proportion of adults aged 18 and over in the U.S., in the year 2010, who reported that their health care providers always explained things so they could understand them was about 60.6%.[7] This number increased 1% from 2007 to 2010.[7] The Healthy People 2020 initiative of the United States Department of Health and Human Services has included health literacy as a pressing new topic, with objectives for improving it in the decade to come.[8]

Society as a whole is responsible for improving health literacy. Most importantly, improving health literacy is the responsibility of healthcare and public health professionals and systems.

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