Who is responsible for improving health literacy?


Who is at risk?

Populations most likely to experience low health literacy are older adults, racial and ethnic minorities, people with less than a high school degree or GED certificate, people with low income levels, non-native speakers of English, and people with compromised health status.7 Education, language, culture, access to resources, and age are all factors that affect a person’s health literacy skills.

Who is responsible for improving health literacy?

The primary responsibility for improving health literacy lies with public health professionals and the healthcare and public health systems. We must work together to ensure that health information and services can be understood and used by all Americans. We must engage in skill building with healthcare consumers and health professionals. Adult educators can be productive partners in reaching adults with limited literacy skills.


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Why is health literacy important?


Why is health literacy important?

Only 12 percent of adults have Proficient health literacy, according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy.  In other words, nearly nine out of ten adults may lack the skills needed to manage their health and prevent disease.  Fourteen percent of adults (30 million people) have Below Basic health literacy.  These adults were more likely to report their health as poor (42 percent) and are more likely to lack health insurance (28 percent) than adults with Proficient health literacy.6
Low literacy has been linked to poor health outcomes such as higher rates of hospitalization and less frequent use of preventive services (see Fact Sheet: Health Literacy and Health Outcomes). Both of these outcomes are associated with higher healthcare costs.

What is cultural and linguistic competency?


What is cultural and linguistic competency?

Culture affects how people communicate, understand, and respond to health information. Cultural and linguistic competency of health professionals can contribute to health literacy. Cultural competence is the ability of health organizations and practitioners to recognize the cultural beliefs, values, attitudes, traditions, language preferences, and health practices of diverse populations, and to apply that knowledge to produce a positive health outcome.4 Competency includes communicating in a manner that is linguistically and culturally appropriate.5
Healthcare professionals have their own culture and language. Many adopt the “culture of medicine” and the language of their specialty as a result of their training and work environment. This can affect how health professionals communicate with the public.
For many individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP), the inability to communicate in English is the primary barrier to accessing health information and services. Health information for people with LEP needs to be communicated plainly in their primary language, using words and examples that make the information understandable.

What is plain language?


What is plain language?

Plain language is a strategy for making written and oral information easier to understand. It is one important tool for improving health literacy.

Plain language is communication that users can understand the first time they read or hear it. With reasonable time and effort, a plain language document is one in which people can find what they need, understand what they find, and act appropriately on that understanding.3

Key elements of plain language include:

Organizing information so that the most important points come first

Breaking complex information into understandable chunks

Using simple language and defining technical terms

Using the active voice

Language that is plain to one set of readers may not be plain to others.3 It is critical to know your audience and have them test your materials before, during, and after they are developed.

Speaking plainly is just as important as writing plainly. Many plain language techniques apply to verbal messages, such as avoiding jargon and explaining technical or medical terms.

http://www.health.gov/communication/literacy/quickguide/factsbasic.htm

What is literacy?


What is literacy?

Literacy can be defined as a person’s ability to read, write, speak, and compute and solve problems at levels necessary to:

  • Function on the job and in society
  • Achieve one’s goals
  • Develop one’s knowledge and potential2
The term “illiteracy” means being unable to read or write. A person who has limited or low literacy skills is not illiterate.

What is health literacy?


What is health literacy?

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.1
Health literacy is dependent on individual and systemic factors:
  • Communication skills of lay persons and professionals
  • Lay and professional knowledge of health topics
  • Culture
  • Demands of the healthcare and public health systems
  • Demands of the situation/context
Health literacy affects people’s ability to:
  • Navigate the healthcare system, including filling out complex forms and locating providers and services
  • Share personal information, such as health history, with providers
  • Engage in self-care and chronic-disease management
  • Understand mathematical concepts such as probability and risk
Health literacy includes numeracy skills. For example, calculating cholesterol and blood sugar levels, measuring medications, and understanding nutrition labels all require math skills. Choosing between health plans or comparing prescription drug coverage requires calculating premiums, copays, and deductibles.
In addition to basic literacy skills, health literacy requires knowledge of health topics. People with limited health literacy often lack knowledge or have misinformation about the body as well as the nature and causes of disease. Without this knowledge, they may not understand the relationship between lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise and various health outcomes.
Health information can overwhelm even persons with advanced literacy skills. Medical science progresses rapidly. What people may have learned about health or biology during their school years often becomes outdated or forgotten, or it is incomplete. Moreover, health information provided in a stressful or unfamiliar situation is unlikely to be retained.


California Pain Patients Bill of Rights


California Pain Patients Bill of Rights
California Senate Bill No 402
Passed the Senate September 5, 1997
Passed the Assembly September 2, 1997
An act to add Part 4.5 (commencing with Section 124960) toDivision 106 of the Health and Safety Code, relating to health.
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST
SB 402, Greene. Health: opiate drugs.
Existing law, the Intractable Pain Treatment Act, authorizesa physician and surgeon to prescribe or administer controlled substances to aperson in the course of treating that person for a diagnosed condition calledintractable pain, and prohibits the Medical Board of California fromdisciplining a physician and surgeon for this action.
This bill establishes the Pain Patient’s Bill of Rights andstates the legislative findings and declarations regarding the value of opiatedrugs to persons suffering from severe chronic intractable pain. It, amongother things, authorizes a physician to refuse to prescribe opiate medicationfor a patient who requests the treatment for severe chronic intractable pain,the physician to inform the patient that there are physicians who specialize inthe treatment of severe chronic intractable pain with methods that include theuse of opiates, and authorizes a physician who prescribes opiates to prescribea dosage deemed medically necessary.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
SECTION 1. Part 4.5 (commencing with Section 124960) isadded to Division 106 of the Health and Safety Code, to read:
PART 4.5. PAIN PATIENT’S BILL OF RIGHTS
124960. The Legislature finds and declares all of thefollowing:
(a) The state has a right and duty to control the illegaluse of opiate drugs
(b) Inadequate treatment of acute and chronic painoriginating from cancer or non-cancerous conditions is a significant healthproblem.
(c) For some patients, pain management is the single mostimportant treatment a physician can provide.
(d) A patient suffering from severe chronic intractable painshould have access to proper treatment of his or her pain.
(e) Due to the complexity of their problems, many patientssuffering from severe chronic intractable pain may require referral to aphysician with expertise in the treatment of severe chronic intractable pain.In some cases, severe chronic intractable pain is best treated by a team ofclinicians in order to address the associated physical, psychological, social,and vocational issues.
(f) In the hands of knowledgeable, ethical, and experiencedpain management practitioners, opiates administered for severe acute and severechronic intractable pain can be safe.
(g) Opiates can be an accepted treatment for patients insevere chronic intractable pain who have not obtained relief from any othermeans of treatment.
(h) A patient suffering from severe chronic intractable painhas the option to request or reject the use of any or all modalities to relievehis or her severe chronic intractable pain.
(i) A physician treating a patient who suffers from severechronic intractable pain may prescribe a dosage deemed medically necessary torelieve severe chronic intractable pain as long as the prescribing is inconformance with the provisions of the California Intractable Pain TreatmentAct, Section 2241.5 of the Business and Professions Code.
(j.) A patient who suffers from severe chronic intractablepain has the option to choose opiate medication for the treatment of the severechronic intractable pain as long as the prescribing is in conformance with theprovisions of the California Intractable Pain Treatment Act, Section 2241.5 ofthe Business and Professions Code.
(k) The patient’s physician may refuse to prescribe opiatemedication for a patient who requests the treatment for severe chronicintractable pain. However, that physician shall inform the patient that thereare physicians who specialize in the treatment of severe chronic intractablepain with methods that include the use of opiates.
124961. Nothing in this section shall be construed to alterany of the provisions set forth in the California Intractable Pain TreatmentAct, Section 2241.5 of the Business and Professions Code. This section shall beknown as the Pain Patient’s Bill of Rights.
(a) A patient suffering from severe chronic intractable painhas the option to request or reject the use of any or all modalities in orderto relieve his or her severe chronic intractable pain.
(b) A patient who suffers from severe chronic intractablepain has the option to choose opiate medications to relieve severe chronicintractable pain without first having to submit to an invasive medicalprocedure, which is defined as surgery, destruction of a nerve or other bodytissue by manipulation, or the implantation of a drug delivery system ordevice, as long as the prescribing physician acts in conformance with theprovisions of the California Intractable Pain Treatment Act, Section 2241.5 ofthe Business and Professions Code.
(c) The patient’s physician may refuse to prescribe opiatemedication for the patient who requests a treatment for severe chronic intractablepain. However, that physician shall inform the patient that there arephysicians who specialize in the treatment of severe chronic intractable painwith methods that include the use of opiates.
(d) A physician who uses opiate therapy to relieve severechronic intractable pain may prescribe a dosage deemed medically necessary torelieve severe chronic intractable pain, as long as that prescribing is inconformance with the California Intractable Pain Treatment Act, Section 2241.5of the Business and Professions Code.
(e) A patient may voluntarily request that his or herphysician provide an identifying notice of the prescription for purposes ofemergency treatment or law enforcement identification.
(f) Nothing in this section shall do either of thefollowing:
(1) Limit any reporting or disciplinary provisionsapplicable to licensed physicians and surgeons who violate prescribingpractices or other provisions set forth in the Medical Practice Act, Chapter 5(commencing with Section 2000) of Division 2 of the Business and ProfessionsCode, or the regulations adopted thereunder.
(2) Limit the applicability of any federal statute orfederal regulation or any of the other statutes or regulations of this statethat regulate dangerous drugs or controlled substances.