Caring for Patients With Limited Health Literacy A 76-Year-Old Man With Multiple Medical Problems
Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand health information, skills, and services needed to make informed health decisions and take informed actions. Narratives from Mr J, a 76-year-old man with multiple medical problems and limited health literacy, and his physician exhibit some of the difficulties experienced by patients with limited health literacy. Clinicians can help patients with limited health literacy by removing unneeded complexity in their treatment regimens and in the health care system and by using teach-back methods to assess and improve understanding. Rather than a selective screening approach for limited health literacy, a patient-based universal precaution approach for confirming patient comprehension of critical self-care activities helps ensure that all patients have their health literacy needs identified.
Available from: David K Raynor
Available from: Alison Blenkinsopp
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ABSTRACT: There have been widespread changes in society and the roles of professionals. This change is also reflected in health care, where there is now acceptance of the need to involve patients in decision making. In prescribing specifically, the concordance agenda was developed alongside these initiatives to encourage improved medication taking and reduce wastage. However the extent to which these partnerships are delivered in practice remains unclear. This paper explores some of the issues to be considered when preparing patients and professionals for partnership and summarizes the limited evidence of barriers to, and benefits of, this approach. Firstly patients must be given the confidence, skills and knowledge to be partners. They need information about medicines, provided in ways known to be acceptable to them. Likewise professionals may need new skills to be partners. They need to understand the patient agenda and may need training and support to change the ways in which they consult with patients. There are also practical issues such as the perceived increase in time taken when consulting in partnership mode, room layout, computer interfaces and record keeping. Health care professionals other than doctors are also expected to behave in partnership mode, whether this is as prescribers in their own right or in supporting the prescribing of others. Whilst much has been claimed for the benefit of partnership approaches, hard evidence is limited. However whilst there is still much more to understand there will be no going back to the paternalistic model of the mid 20th century.
Available from: Brian W Jack
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ABSTRACT: Low health literacy is associated with higher mortality, higher rates of hospitalization, and poor self-management skills for chronic disease. Early, unplanned hospital reutilization after discharge is a common and costly occurrence in U.S. hospitals. Still, few studies have examined the relation between health literacy and 30-day hospital reutilization rates. The authors examined the association between health literacy and 30-day reutilization of hospital services (readmission or return to the emergency department) in an urban safety net hospital, and conducted a secondary analysis of data from the control arm subjects of the Project RED and the RED-LIT trials. Health literacy was measured using the REALM tool. The primary outcome was rate of 30-day reutilization. The authors used multivariate Poisson regression analysis to control for potential confounding. Of the 703 subjects, 20% had low health literacy, 29% had marginal health literacy, and 51% had adequate health literacy. Sixty-two percent of subjects had a 12th-grade education or less. Subjects with low health literacy were more likely to be insured by Medicaid (p < .001); Black non-Hispanic (p < .001); unemployed, disabled, or retired (p < .001); low income (p < .001); and less educated (high school education or less, p < .001). The fully adjusted incidence rate ratio for low health literacy compared with adequate health literacy was 1.46 (CI [1.04, 2.05]). Low health literacy is a significant, independent, and modifiable risk factor for 30-day hospital reutilization after discharge. Interventions designed to reduce early, unplanned, hospital utilization after discharge should include activities to mitigate the effect of patients' low health literacy.
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