Health Literacy

from a community health perspective I see health literacy issues all the time while working in the community usually taking blood pressures I usually have a lot of people come up to me and say can you check my blood and they just throw their arm out and I don't think sometimes they know the difference between getting their blood pressure taken and getting their blood drawn health care today is complex and downright overwhelming for many of us I felt like he didn't give me enough time to maybe comprehend what he had to go to the next person take one tablet by mouth once daily for seven days then two tablets once daily so am I supposed to take one tablet or two tablets I left there feeling like whatever I learn what do I what can I do I didn't understand what they're asking right now how am I supposed to throw this out I didn't go to medical school I'm not a doctor I'm not gonna look up this on the internet I am going to trust that you're going to guide me through this process when you speak to patients and Families do they really understand what you are saying or asking them to do once she told me the name of it and told me what caused it I just I was in la-la land as health care providers we are here to help but we may be harming patients they making assumptions about their education their ability to read and how well they understand English often people do not understand what's wrong with them and what they must do to get better medication errors are common because patients get confused by directions and may be too embarrassed to ask any questions these are examples of low health literacy which 9 out of 10 people have recently I was working with a patient he shared a personal story with me that he was diagnosed with high blood pressure and he got his medicine but he just stopped taking his medicine because he didn't understand why he needed it or why he had to take it and two days later he had a stroke to help people understand we need to use universal precautions and assume that everyone has a low health literacy I like to think I'm a pretty intelligent person but sometimes I'm just not on the level that the physicians are on so I'm a little lost when they gonna use the terms that I just never heard of someone may be well educated yet unable to understand health related information or instructions given invisible factors like stress and anxiety can impact one's ability to understand keep it simple since everyone benefits from clear concise communication in communication with a patient you have to understand where that patient is coming from in some way think about the words you use if you say hypertension are you sure the patient knows you mean high blood pressure if you say avoid salt do they know sodium is what they need to look for in food labels should you use the word arthritis or say pain in your joints tell me I had a rest they told me I guess – don't flick the lights when I use the word blood pressure and then when it back and use the word hypertension the patient thought that I was saying that he was a hyperactive instead of having high blood pressure encourage your patients to bring family and a friend to appointments in addition to providing emotional support that person can take notes ask questions and help the patient understand when you're in this situation you'd really don't know what questions to ask but if you have someone with you then they can sit back in I would say analyze the situation better research suggests the patient's need to understand three basic things during a healthcare visit 1 what is wrong with me it's best to keep that answer brief – what do I need to do to help myself for instance do I need to take these medications and 3 why is it important that I do this don't assume that you've gone through your spiel and now everybody understands they may not understand after you explain to the patient their problem and with the plaintiff Karras avoid using yes-or-no questions like did you understand me instead try the teach-back method where you ask them to repeat in their own words what you've just taught them to see if they fully understood you keep trying until they can repeat it back to you and you're confident that they understood what you said can you explain to me what I just told you and sure we're gonna go down to 30 this is especially important when instructing patients how to take their medications they need to understand what to take how to take it and how often they need to take the medication throughout the day also do they understand the terms that we frequently use like side effects or adverse reactions do they understand how to measure the medications and if they need to take it with food or beverage throughout the day our patients need to understand how to take care of themselves when they go home when giving a patient written instructions make sure you use a 5th grade reading level use large fonts for seniors and use pictures whenever possible simple pictures hand drawn at appointments can go a long way to help ensure patients understand exactly what we say consider putting these points into practice assume everyone has low healthcare literacy use simple clear words answer these three questions for the patient what is wrong what needs to be done and why is it important use the teach-back method and remember that written information and pictures are useful for patients please slow down so that I can understand exactly what you are saying we're just everyday people who you know we just want to understand the best way we you know that we can so just keep it simple for us you know we won't be offended we really won't if anything we'll be more appreciative that you're bringing it down to our level so that we can know where to go from here so you know just

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