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From theory to (clinical) practice

Health professionals discuss how they empower patients referencing characteristics and techniques by providing practice examples.
YOUNG: One thing I do with patients living with diabetes who start on insulin shots is to give them written instructions in a really simple language and some diagrams on how to apply the insulin, the dosage they need on every day, and their time schedule. Then I ask them to see me again, once they have read the material and have got the supplies needed for the application and bring it with them. When they come with the material ready, we go through the instructions, making every step to better understand what they are supposed to do while doing it. If they have any doubts or troubles, I assess them right away.
After doing it with them one time, I ask for them to try to do it themselves with their instructions in hand to see if they understood correctly. And if they successfully do it, they can start on their own at home. But I make sure to tell them they can ask any questions they might have later. DR.
WILKINS: Whenever possible, I try to make drawings for my patients about what diseases do to their body. Other times, I can just look up a diagram on my tablet to help me better explain what’s going on with them. In either case, I try to give them the drawing or a printout of the diagram with the notes made during the consultation. That way, they can check it whenever they want. And if they have questions, they can write them on the back of the page, and we can solve them during the next consultation.
YOUNG: Yeah, most of them say that having the diagrams help them remember when we walk through the steps in the exam room. And I notice they have remembered the correct dosage and times when they should have the shots. For me, it’s really useful because I don’t have to take time explaining the whole process again and again, unless it’s really necessary, of course. This way, I have more time for other patients as well. DR.
WILKINS: Absolutely. What I have noticed is that when I explain what’s going on with the patient’s health in terms they can understand, they become conscience about why the treatment is important and also come up with questions about the diagnosis or the treatment itself. In general, they seem to be more interested in handling their health. It’s also worked wonders for my practise because sometimes patients send their questions in advance, and I can better prepare to answer them with more material, which can make the consultation more efficient.

Watch the following video of two healthcare professionals, who were interviewed on how they empower their patients using the techniques proposed to make health-related information more easily-understandable.

After seeing the video we invite you to reflect on the practice examples given by these health professionals. What do you think of them? Are they something you could do yourself to empower people? Why or why not?

Please share other examples you come up with and leave these thoughts as a comment, and as always, look around the other comments to see if they feel the same about these examples or if they have their own examples you could use.

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Working with Patients with Limited Health Literacy

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