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Week 2 summary

Brief summary of the topics reviewed in Week 2.
Two people assembling a circular jigsaw puzzle
© IMPACCT consortium

During this week we have explored a Universal Precautions approach to health literacy in healthcare environments and person-centred care as complementary ways to mitigate the negative health effects of people that experience limited health literacy.

The question you should be able to answer after this week is:

Do you, the healthcare provider, understand why it is important to make patients truly understand the information you are giving them enabling to make informed decisions about their health regardless of their health literacy abilities.

As we have learned, this is easier said than done. Many healthcare organisations are not, as yet, health literacy friendly, the proper implementation of the concept of Health Literacy Universal Precautions is aspirational and the person-centred approach is also in the process of being introduced into many healthcare systems.

We also learned that identifying people with limited health literacy is complex for a lot of reasons, such as:

  • It is a sensitive topic and people might be ashamed if they have difficulties and hide them;
  • Health professionals overestimate health literacy abilities of their patients;
  • Patients overestimate their own health literacy abilities;
  • Limited time in healthcare appointments and encounters with staff;
  • Indicators are just signs or indications, not certain things;
  • Screening is difficult: limited valid and/or reliable measures;
  • Nature of health literacy: it changes over time, and also in response to situations (e.g. when breaking bad news some people don’t hear what comes next).

All of the approaches mentioned this week try to reduce barriers and enable more people to access and use health services in support of their health, but it is up to you to adopt them, so you can have an impact on the life of patients with limited health literacy, who are in need of high-quality healthcare.

Looking forward to next week?

In Week 3 we are going to look in more detail as to ways health professionals and others working in health sectors can reduce barriers and enable people to make informed decisions for their health. Skills and approaches for health professionals and healthcare staff that can contribute to facilitating patient understanding for people with unmet health literacy needs in a sensitive way are introduced and explored.

© IMPACCT consortium
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Working with Patients with Limited Health Literacy

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