253081 Role of health literacy in promoting health and preventive disease in clinical practice

Monday, October 31, 2011: 11:15 AM

Linda Harris, PhD, Lead , Health Communication and eHealth Team, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, US Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, MD
Ellen Langhans, MA , Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, US Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, MD
Only 12 percent of U.S. adults have proficient health literacy. The resulting impact on clinical care is great, since people with limited health literacy are more likely to experience medication errors, end up in the emergency room, and have longer hospital stays; and they are less likely to obtain preventive services such as mammograms, Pap smears and flu shots. Limited health literacy is also associated with poor health outcomes, including poor quality of life and higher mortality.

Person-centered care allows for patients to receive care that is unique to their needs and individual traits, including their level of health literacy. A critical tenet of person-centered care is shared decision-making between a clinician and a patient however, shared decision-making can only be realized if the patient understands what the options are, and the pros and cons of each, and feels empowered to play a role in the decision-making process. The role of the patient's health literacy is potentially even more important after the clinical visit, as delivering evidence-based care is only effective if patients understand how to follow their care plan within the context of their lives and their communities.

Strategies to improve health literacy and health outcomes include using the teach-back method to educate and empower patients during clinical visits, making communication about services like screenings more clear and appropriate for low health literacy audiences, and involving members of the target audience in the design and testing of communication products that are actionable and understandable

Learning Areas:
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
1. State the effect that low health literacy can have on clinical outcomes. 2. Explain how a patient-centered care approach can improve health literacy and strengthen efforts to promote health and prevent disease in a clinical setting. 3. Describe strategies for patient-centered care to improve health literacy in a clinical setting

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: work in DHHS Office of eHealth and health literacy.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.