Online Program

Identifying and Improving Care for Patients with Limited Health Literacy

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 3:10 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Jonathan B. VanGeest, PhD, Department of Health Policy and Management, Kent State University, Kent, OH
Limited health literacy, or the diminished capacity to obtain, understand, and act upon health-related information, has been identified as a cross-cutting factor affecting the overall quality of health care delivery and patient health outcomes, including disparities in health care.  As defined, health literacy is not simply a ‘‘patient problem,’’ but one shared by the provider and health care system with implications for the quality of medical care delivery.  Arguably, the problem of limited health literacy places greater burdens on the clinician and/or healthcare system to improve communication and ensure patient understanding, especially related to the delivery of evidence-based practice, which explicitly requires that patient preferences be incorporated into care decisions.  Available evidence suggests, however, that the literacy abilities of patients are often misclassified or that universally recommended strategies to improve patient understanding are not fully implemented.  These difficulties have led to interventions designed to improve outcomes for patients with limited health literacy.  Little agreement exists, however, on the utility of such efforts.  This presentation reviews the efficacy interventions to improve identification and treatment for at-risk patients.  The use of established best practices for improved communication is discussed from a multi-disciplinary evidence-based perspective.  Clinician and health system roles in improving care for patients with limited health literacy are also delineated, with recommendations for solutions to improve care/health outcomes and reduce racial and ethnic disparities.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Define limited health literacy (LHL) and examine the role of LHL in patient health outcomes. Explore the efficacy of interventions to improve identification and care for at-risk patients an inter-disciplinary evidence-based perspective. Discuss opportunities for solutions to improve care and reduce racial and ethnic disparities.

Keyword(s): Health Literacy, Health Disparities/Inequities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked as a health services researcher for over 20 years with focus areas centered on health disparities, health literacy, and health policy. Co-edited one of the first textbooks on health literacy, entitled Understanding Health Literacy: Implications for Medicine and Public Health.
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.