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Understanding Your Audience Part II

According to Health.gov, 9 out of 10 adults do not have the health literacy to manage their health and prevent disease.  As mentioned previously, health literacy is how patients gather, process and understand health information and then use those to be able to make informed decisions about their health and the health of their loved ones.  So how can we make changes to the health literacy of those we are working with?  It is the responsibility of healthcare providers to ensure we are providing health information that patients can understand.  The following are some suggestions for improving health literacy of those that we work with.

  • Take the time to educate your patients and those around you.
  • Provide health information in plain language. Avoid complicated terminology.
  • Make sure your patients understand. Try asking them questions to check their understanding or have them explain back to you what you told them.
  • Make information culturally sensitive to the audience receiving it.
  • Ask if the patient prefers written material as well as oral communication.

As a patient, it is also our responsibility to follow up with our healthcare.  Here are some suggestions for increasing your health literacy:

  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • Ask for written material.
  • Speak up if you don’t understand something.
  • Take notes. Write down terms you might not know and ask for clarification.

It will take effort from both the patient and the healthcare team to increase health literacy among our communities.  Help increase health literacy today by spreading these tips and tools.  For the source and additional information, click here: https://health.gov/communication/literacy/quickguide/factsbasic.htm

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