Tuesday, December 13, 2016

10 Steps to Better Health Through Improved ‘Health Literacy’

10 Steps to Better Health Through Improved ‘Health Literacy’
David Susman: 01.29.2015 by David Susman PhD
The Mental Health & Wellness Blob

Toni Cordell recounts the story of feeling comforted when told by her doctor that her medical concern could be solved with an easy surgery. She agreed to proceed without asking further questions and didn’t understand the medical consent forms because she didn’t read well.

At a follow-up office visit a couple of weeks after the procedure, Cordell was shocked when the nurse asked, “How are you feeling since your hysterectomy?”

Cordell thought to herself, “How could I be so stupid as to allow somebody to take part of my body and I didn’t know it?” She admits that although she graduated high school, she only had a fifth-grade reading level, which she had always tried to hide from others.

Cordell’s story is well known and unfortunately all too common, and it reflects the widespread problem of limited “health literacy.” Other examples of health literacy difficulties include incorrect use of medicines, filling out medical forms incormpletely [sic], failure to carry out health care instructions, and making unhealthy lifestyle choices like smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise.

What is health literacy?
Health literacy is defined as “obtaining, processing, understanding, and communicating health-related information to make informed health decisions.” It is related to overall academic ability, but even very intelligent, well-educated persons can have significant difficulties understanding health information.

How big is the problem?
A large US national survey found that more than one-third (36%) of adults lack sufficient literacy to adequately understand and carry out basic health care instructions and medical treatments and nearly 9 out of 10 (88%) have at least some difficulty with everyday health information routinely used in our health care system.

Who is at highest risk?
Health literacy is affected by a person’s age, culture, native language, academic abilities and a host of other factors. Past experiences with the health care system, how complex the health information is, and how the information is communicated all impact someone’s understanding. Higher-risk groups for poor health literacy include people over age 65, those with less than a high school education, ethnic minority groups, and persons with no health insurance.  READ MORE @

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