Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

What you don't know can hurt you

Date:
August 3, 2012
Source:
University of California - San Francisco
Summary:
Is it possible for a health-care system to redesign its services to better educate patients to deal with their immediate health issues and also become more savvy consumers of medicine in the long run?

Is it possible for a health care system to redesign its services to better educate patients to deal with their immediate health issues and also become more savvy consumers of medicine in the long run?

Related Articles


The answer is yes, according to a study led by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (SFGH) that was recently reported by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

The team's paper describes ten attributes that health care organizations should utilize to make it easier for people to better navigate health information, make sense of services and better manage their own health -- assistance for which there is a profound societal need.

Some 77 millions people in the United States have difficulty understanding even very basic health information, which clouds their ability to follow doctors' recommendations, and millions more simply lack the skills necessary to make clear, informed decisions about their own health care, said senior author Dean Schillinger, MD, a UCSF professor of medicine, chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at SFGH, and director of the Health Communications Program the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations at SFGH.

"Depending on how you define it, nearly half the U.S. population has poor health literacy skills," he said.

"Over the last two decades, we have focused on what patients can do to improve their health literacy," he said. "In this report, we look at the other side of the health literacy coin, and focus on what health care systems can do."

Emerging from an IOM Roundtable that brought together leaders from academia, industry, government agencies, non-profit organizations and patient and consumer interest groups, the new paper examines the programs, practices, attitudes and attributes of organizations that create environments that foster health literacy.

Why Health Literacy is So Important

The importance of enhancing health literacy has been demonstrated by numerous clinical studies over the years, said Schillinger, many of them carried out at UCSF. Health literacy is linked directly to patient wellness. People who are adept at understanding health information tend to make better choices, are better able to self-manage their chronic conditions, and have significantly better outcomes than people who do not.

Adults with low health literacy may find it especially difficult to navigate the healthcare system, and are more likely to have higher rates of serious medication errors, more emergency room visits and hospitalizations, gaps in their preventative care, increased likelihood of dying, and even poorer health outcomes for their children.

A number of health policy organizations have recognized that health literacy not only is important to individuals, but also benefits society because helping patients help themselves is an important pathway to keeping down health care costs. Successful self-management reduces disease complications and can cut down on unnecessary emergency room visits and eliminate other wasteful spending

Organizations that promote proper health literacy tend to do certain things very well. The ten attributes in the report include items such as:

  • Making improving health literacy a priority at every level of the organization;
  • Measuring health literacy and using those measurements to guide their practices;
  • Taking into account the particular needs of the populations they serve;
  • Avoiding stigmatizing people who lack health literacy;
  • Providing easy access to health information and assistance navigating services;
  • Distributing easy-to-understand information across print, audiovisual, and social media channels;
  • Taking health literacy into account when discussing medicines or in other high-risk situations by using proven educational techniques, such as the teach-back method;
  • Training the healthcare workforce in health communication techniques; and
  • Letting patients know what their insurance policies cover and what they are themselves responsible for paying.

A complete description of ten attributes that define health-literate health care organizations can be found at the following links:


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Francisco. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Cindy Brach, Debra Keller, Lyla M. Hernandez, Cynthia Baur, Ruth Parker, Benard Dreyer, Paul Schyve, Andrew J. Lemerise, and Dean Schillinger. Ten Attributes of Health Literate Health Care Organizations. IOM, 2012

Cite This Page:

University of California - San Francisco. "What you don't know can hurt you." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120803153123.htm>.
University of California - San Francisco. (2012, August 3). What you don't know can hurt you. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120803153123.htm
University of California - San Francisco. "What you don't know can hurt you." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120803153123.htm (accessed November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) Madagascar said Monday it is trying to contain an outbreak of plague -- similar to the Black Death that swept Medieval Europe -- that has killed 40 people and is spreading to the capital Antananarivo. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins