Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Low health literacy has a negative impact on a patients health status and use of the health care system. Patients with low health literacy levels cannot make decisions regarding their health care or follow instructions on medications and health maintenance behaviors. This can affect health care in a variety of ways. It is the health care provider’s responsibility to ensure that patients with low health literacy levels are identified and measures are taken to ensure those patients understand their options and instructions. To educate these patients, health care providers need to develop resources that are easily understood and interview skills that can ensure patient comprehension. Research has shown that patients with a low health literacy level may be more likely to have problems following verbal or written medical advice and medication instructions or understanding health-related materials. This review discusses the commonness of health literacy and its impact on patients and the health care system, and provides recommendations for creating supplemental literature at the appropriate level. The use of these tools and improved physician interview skills will establish a better physician/patient relationship and continue to encourage patient participation in the health care process. By providing the patients with the basic knowledge to understand and adhere to the instructions given to them and the confidence to communicate any questions or concerns, the hospital is promoting a better patient/physician relationship.
There was a study conducted in 2003 by the National Assessment on Adult Literacy that was released in 2006 that included a Health Literacy component that evaluated patient’s health literacy in three main categories: clinical, preventative, and navigation of...
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