There is a new display in the Biomedical Library breezeway, “Health Literacy: What You Need to Know.” Cynthia Rosenthal, MSN, the Patient Education Coordinator in the Nursing Education, Development and Research Department at UC San Diego Medical Center, created this display to help raise the awareness of medical students, and others, regarding the issue of health literacy.
Medical students and healthcare workers generally have the highest degree of health literacy but may not be aware of the low literacy level in much of the general population – including their patients. Health literacy is defined in HEALTHY PEOPLE 2010 as “The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.” It is important for doctors to recognize the behaviors of someone who does not understand the health information being given to them and to be able to provide a trusting environment where the patient feels respected and safe in asking questions. Medication compliance, changes in health-related self-care, use of the healthcare system, and the elimination of health disparities are all affected by communication in the provider-patient relationship.
Stop by the Biomedical Library to take a look at the health literacy display which will be available through the end of February 2010.