(Educating the public about health is a great way to improve health. [You] would be amazed at what people do not know in regards to health. I believe that if more resources were allocated into educating the public about various health topics and the benefits of leading a more health conscious lifestyle, preventable health issues (diabetes, obesity, etc.) would decline.
In 1999, Helen Osborn founded Health Literacy Month (HLM). HLM is celebrated annually during October. “It is a time for organizations and individuals to promote the importance of understandable health information” (Osborne, n.d.).
During this time, health care organizations, community centers, government agencies, etc. host a variety of HLM events. Events can include how-to workshops for health professionals, wellness programs, and student educational seminars.
HLM is an awesome way to educate the public and health care professionals, but why does this event have to take place annually? This event could take place once a month or quarterly.)
Frank Federico, Director for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, recommends 8 ways health literacy can be improved:
- Ask open-ended questions
- Utilize the teach back method – this will insure if the patient has understood what has been communicated to him/her and can repeat the information in their own words.
- “Show back”- when a patient is taught how to use a device or complete a specified task, s/he can demonstrate how to use it.
- Hand your patient written information upside down and watch whether s/he turns it the correct way.
- Use layman’s terms. Avoid using medical jargon when communicating with a patient or his/her family (i.e. swallow instead of take; fats instead of lipids).
- Speak slowly when giving instructions. Remember to be respectful, not patronizing.
- Use visual aids instead of written materials if possible.
- Provide information at appropriate grade level.
Federico, F. (2014 October 15). “8 ways to improve health literacy.” Retrieved from http://www.ihi.org/communities/blogs/_layouts/15/ihi/community/blog/itemview.aspx?List=0f316db6-7f8a430f-a63a-ed7602d1366a&ID=35
Osborne, H. (n.d.). “October is Health Literacy Month.” Retrieved from http://www.healthliteracymonth.org/