Health literacy is a concept that describes a patient’s ability to understand materials provided by physicians or other providers. Several factors, including education level, income, and age, can influence health literacy. Research conducted at one medical practice in Florida indicated that in spite of the patients’ relatively low education level, the majority indicated a broad acceptance of personal health record (PHR) technology. The key variable explaining patient willingness to adopt a PHR was the patient’s health literacy as measured by the eHealth Literacy Scale (eHEALS).
The Health Literacy Group UK invites you to join them for this one-day seminar where they will focus on the contribution of Health Literacy to a healthier life style. Health literacy is defined as ‘the cognitive and social skills which determine the motivation and ability of individuals to gain access to, understand, and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health’. At the seminar, Health Literacy UK will report on two ongoing research projects; Literacy, Numeracy and Obesity and New Vital Sign: Health Literacy and alcohol. The event takes place 15 November 2012.
The Health Literacy Group UK invites you to join them for this one-day seminar with a focus on the contribution of Health Literacy to a healthier life style. Health literacy is defined as ‘the cognitive and social skills which determine the motivation and ability of individuals to gain access to, understand, and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health’. At the seminar they will report on two ongoing research projects: Literacy, Numeracy and Obesity and New Vital Sign: Health Literacy and alcohol.
Blithehale Health Centre in Tower Hamlets, in a deprived area of east London, started an after-school club to help improve health literacy levels. The premise behind the project is that health literacy levels are low within the community and that by informing and educating children the practice could potentially have an impact on their future lives but also create a ripple effect which may benefit their families and the wider community. Children from years 5 and 6 visit the surgery for an hour, once a week during term times, for sessions led by members of the healthcare team. Topics include basic first aid, hygiene, food, family health and lifestyle.
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and Deakin University, Australia are developing an instrument to measure ‘e-health literacy’ in current and future users of healthcare. To develop this instrument they are undertaking a comprehensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. This includes the perspective of users of the healthcare system, as well as the perspective of ‘experts’, i.e. researchers, healthcare professionals, managers and policymakers. Please help by completing a short online survey which closes 1 August 2012.
This research examined online support group members’ reliance on their Internet community and other online and offline health resources as they prepare for a scheduled medical appointment. Pre-visit information seeking on the Internet was extensive and typically augmented with offline information.Use of online health resources was highest among those who believed they had control over their illness, who attributed many symptoms and negative emotions to it, and who were more eHealth literate. Trust in the physician and preferences for involvement in decision making were unrelated to online information seeking. Most respondents intended to ask their physician questions and request clinical resources based on online information.
Online health information is of variable and often low scientific quality. In particular, elderly less-educated populations are said to struggle in accessing quality online information (digital divide). Little is known about how their online behavior differs from that of younger, more-educated, and more-frequent Web users, and how the older population may be supported in accessing good-quality online health information. Results showed that health information seekers doubted the quality of information retrieved online; among poorly skilled seekers, this was mainly because they doubted their skills to navigate vast amounts of information; skilled Web users effectively filtered information according to search intentions and data sources; less-skilled users were easily distracted by unrelated information; skilled Web users searched to inform themselves; less-skilled users searched to confirm their health-related opinions such as “vaccinations are harmful.”
The Knowledge Network in Scotland provides evidence, information, e-learning and community tools. It supports staff to find, share and use knowledge in day to day work and learning. One of the portals on the web site is Information Partnership which provides health and social care staff with quality assured information resources and training, to help them to share information with patients and the public. In particular PiF members may find the information literacy webiste of interest – it contains an information literacy cycle, real life examples that illustrate the stages or steps of the information literacy processes they are applied in a particular context, training courses and materials. There is also an Information literacy framework, which is a framework to support improved information use for staff and patients.
In this editorial article in the BMJ recently, Professor Theo Raynor discusses the impact of health literacy and asks whether it is time to shift our focus from patient to provider. Professor Raynor discusses the importance of increasing people’s ability to understand and engage in their healthcare, the impact of health literacy on health outcomes and the challenges of assesing someone’s health literacy and ability to understand during a consultation. Professor Raynor moves on to talk about the importance of clear, simple and understandable information for patients and the public; information that is tested with users and which uses plain language. There is also some discussion of the lack of UK policy in such a key area.
The recent focus on patient engagement acknowledges that patients have an important role to play in their own health care. This includes reading, understanding and acting on health information (health literacy), working together with clinicians to select appropriate treatments or management options (shared decision making), and providing feedback on health care processes and outcomes (quality improvement). Various interventions designed to help patients play an effective role have been evaluated in trials and systematic reviews. This article outlines the evidence in support of the most promising interventions.